Los Angeles: Actress-activist Eva Longoria, a member of the Time’s Up movement, says diversifying entertainment will be good for Hollywood.
Longoria, who is also a producer, has drawn attention to the need of diverse characters and stories in an article for Time.com.
“Audiences are sending Hollywood a clear message, turning out in record numbers to see films like ‘Coco’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Girls’ Trip’ and ‘Wonder Woman’. Top television shows include ‘Scandal’, ‘This is Us’, ‘Blackish’, ‘One Day At A Time’, ‘Jane the Virgin’, ‘Transparent’, ‘Fresh Off the Boat’… It turns out that viewers want shows that look like their lives — with diverse characters and stories.
“Even more importantly, the way we are represented in entertainment matters,” she wrote.
She believes, “When a girl sees herself as a scientist, or a boy sees someone with his skin color as a law student, it plants a seed that this is possible”.
To cite an example, Longoria said archery suddenly gained popularity with girls in 2012 coinciding with the releases of films including “The Hunger Games” and “Brave”, and after years of “CSI” breaking TV ratings records, there was an increase in forensics studies across the nation.
Of her own experience, she said: “As a little girl growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, I was inspired by a young, Mexican American singer named Selena Quintanilla, whose skin looked like mine, whose hair texture resembled mine, who sounded like me.
“She wouldn’t live long enough to see the impact her talent made in the world, but she is responsible for paving the way for a young girl like me to eventually portray Gabrielle Solis on ‘Desperate Housewives’. It was during my time on ‘Desperate Housewives’ that I realised I wanted to create more opportunities for others in my community. And I couldn’t do that without getting behind the camera as a producer and director.”
Longoria stressed: “We should diversify entertainment and it will be good for Hollywood’s bottom line. We need diverse decision-makers greenlighting and funding content; otherwise, similarity bias leads us to seek out people who share our backgrounds or experiences.
“And given that 95 per cent of Hollywood film executives are white, that bias doesn’t seem likely to change.
“We must proactively diversify our ranks. We need diverse executives, casting directors, producers, and directors to look into the large untapped talent pool of women and minorities. This is why the Time’s Up movement, of which I am a proud participant, is pushing our ’50/50 by 2020′ initiative.
“It will lead to a safer Hollywood and is proven to be produce profitable projects.”