Netflix has increased the number of Asian and women in lead roles but still lags in representing Latinos, disabled, and women of color, a study by the streaming platform and the University of Southern California (USC) found. While Hollywood has made strides in diversity in recent years, some communities criticize the lack of progress on and off-screen. To understand the lack of representation in the industry, Netflix partnered with USC and founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, to analyze the inclusion metrics of the streaming service from 2018 to 2021 based on gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, and disability.
The study released on Thursday showed increased opportunities for women in leading roles, directing, and critical, creative jobs. However, Netflix still lacks significant representation of characters with disabilities, gender-balanced storytelling in series, roles for girls and women of color, and opportunities for women writers. Despite 27% of the U.S. population identifying as disabled, only 1.1% of all characters in Netflix films and series have a disability, the study found.
Latinos, who make up 12% of the U.S. population, acted in 4.5% of leading cast roles on Netflix in 2021, up from 2.6% in 2018. That compares with 17.1% for Black actors and 9.4% for Asian actors. The study said that only 1.9% of writers for Netflix films have been Latino. Asian casting has improved markedly, with 41.5% of Netflix series having an Asian lead or co-lead in 2021, after making up only 4% of leads and co-leads in both films and series in 2018. Shows featuring girls and women have increased significantly, from 46.4% in films and 50.6% in series in 2018 to 55% for both in 2021.