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10.27.2009

stuff you already knew: film/tv diversity sucks

According to new casting stats released by the Screen Actors Guild, minorities, seniors and female actors have achieved few gains in recent years in the number of film and TV roles they receive: SAG stats: Diversity lags.

Raise your hand if this comes as a surprise. Anyone? Didn't think so. The latest statistics, released Friday, showed minority performers reached a high mark in 2007, with 29.3% of total roles, and then declined last year to 27.5%.

The breakdown of film and TV roles for 2008 was 72.5% Caucasian, 13.3% African-American, 6.4% Latino-Hispanic, 3.8% Asian-Pacific Islander, 0.3% Native American and 3.8% other-unknown.

SAG noted in its report that U.S. Census data from 2000 showed that the nation's population was 73.4% Caucasian, 11.5% African-American, 10.6% Latino-Hispanic, 3.7% Asian-Pacific Islander and 0.8% Native American.

Interesting. Simply comparing the number of roles to U.S. population, APA actors are actually evenly represented. But these census numbers are nearly a decade old, and the report doesn't say anything about the quality of the roles in question.

SAG specifically notes that APA actors were the only minority group to gain from 2007 to 2008, increasing from 3.4% to 3.8%, thanks to gains in television. Feature films, I'm guessing, is another issue entirely.

It's true -- as an average TV watcher, there's definitely been an improvement in the number of roles played by Asian Americans. That said, I still think we have some ways to go before we see a bona fide Asian American movie star.