19 MAY 2021

STAR’Z TAKE THE LEAD: DIVERSITY IMPROVEMENTS IN FRONT AND BEHIND THE CAMERA

During one of the network’s initiative's events, "Transparency Talks: Consumer Demand for Diverse Representation,” creatives and cast of "Run The World" comedy series discussed the ways in which minority representation has improved across all aspects of production and broadcasting, and points of opportunity for the movement towards creating a more inclusive media industry.

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As part of its Take The Lead Initiative, Starz hosted its virtual "Transparency Talks: Consumer Demand for Diverse Representation" event where several actors and creatives from the comedy series "Run The World," who also serve as diveristy advocates, share their perspective on the progress of inclusion in the media industry, and the work left to do to properly represent minorities as consumer demand for diverse titles continues to grow.

The network has found that over half of TV viewers, at 56.9%, believe diversity in the media and various cultures and racial groups on-screen increases empathy towards others. A majority of consumers, at 63.7%, admitted that a variety of representation among the people who act, and the quality of the content, is more important than the quantity of the content, while 36.3% care more about the quantity. Over 60% of people believe diversity behind the camera, among producers, directors, and even executives teams, is important, while 49.1% believe having women in the positions are important.  Cast diversity and creator diversity serve as the two main factors consumers choose while choosing content.

Starz' Take The Lead initiative was created with the intention of strengthening its existing commitment to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences. Founder of the Center for Scholars & Storytellers at UCLA, Yalda Uhls presented additional results from the “Give The People What They Want: US Audiences and Their Appetite for Multicultural Media Content" study, which proves that women occupy 75% of executive roles and 54.6% of showrunner roles, and people of color inhabit 63.2% of series lead roles. “The industry is changing,” she said. “It’s changing so rapidly.” 

Contributors to the show who were also featured in the event, Andrea Bordeaux, Bresha Webb, and Amber Stevens West, all agree that the show exemplifies the type of content consumers are turning to more each day, and the power and strength of women of color. The film serves as an example of the company the network continues to keep releasing. The network has reported a 63.2% series leads being people of color, 54% female showrunners, 50% female direcotrs and a 75% female executive team. "We have to find fresh voices, new voices that people haven't heard before and part of the strategy is how do we connect with audiences that our competition is not focused on," Alison Hoffman President of Domestic Networks at Starz said.

All of the experts who took turns speaking admitted to social media’s ability for consumers to voice what they want to watch and engage with diverse titles that they can relate to. The platforms are also helpful for media outlets to receive feedback, such as the discomfort that many women of color feel upon watching overly strong and aggressive portrayals of black women in acting roles. Despite the growth of inclusion in the industry, respondents felt that authentic representation continues to lack, among both women and racial/ethnic minorities. “You would think that people of color and women would recognize that seeing other people of color would make them feel more empathetic, but the fact that men felt that too, the dominant white racial ethnicity group, felt it as well, that was very surprising to me and very helpful and uplifting. It makes me feel like we can work together to change this. we all have to work together in the industry," Uhls said.

Starz continue to hiring more women and members of underrepresented groups and commits to continue enforcing colors of all different ethnicities and fulfillling rising consumer demands for diverse content, and tracking its progress and overall improvement. "When it comes to anything that you want to bring into the world, create, or manifest, I always saw that where your attention goes, energy flows, so if you want to see more of that type of content then tune in and watch it, and give it your support because that lets the money people, the business people know that this is what the poeple want," Actress Andrea Bordeaux said.

By: Karla Florez

We have to find fresh voices, new voices that people haven't heard before and part of the strategy is how do we connect with audiences that our competition is not focused on.” Alison Hoffman President of Domestic Networks, Starz