NEWEST CASTING DATA SHOWS HIGHEST ETHNIC MINORITY REPRESENTATION ON RECORD
Los Angeles (October 29, 2007)—Following a fifteen year trend, non-Caucasian performers made incremental gains over the past two years, although mostly represented in supporting roles, according to the latest casting data collected and analyzed by Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in 2005 and 2006. Casting data for women and senior performers has remained relatively unchanged.
“With the public continuing to demand full inclusion in film and television programming, we are proud to be a leading voice in the industry,” SAG President Alan Rosenberg said. “While we are also pleased to announce the largest percentage share for ethnic minorities to date, we cannot be content with the current levels of representation in each category, as they do not reflect the current demographics of our country. We will continue to insist on greater access to employment opportunities and accurate depictions of the American Scene.”
In a joint effort by Producers and the Guild to realistically portray “the American Scene”, Producers signatory to the Guild’s television and theatrical contracts must submit hiring data of performers on all productions from Theatrical Feature Films, Theatrical Low Budget Films, Television Episodic Programs and Television Non-Episodic Programs. Specifically, with the purpose to improve conditions for equal employment access and opportunities, the collection and analysis of hiring data based on gender, age, and race/ethnicity of performers are examined to determine hiring trends of our traditionally underemployed and disenfranchised membership.
Beginning in 2004, the “Theatrical – Low Budget Presentations” section has been added to accommodate the reporting and analysis of low budget theatrical data as the Guild determined the importance of tracking low budget and modified low budget films since such film agreements contain Diversity in Casting incentives.
With the exception of Non-Episodic Television, the total number of roles that were reported for theatrical features, theatrical low budgets, and episodic television programs all grew from 2005 to 2006. The total number of roles in theatrical features rose by 14.5 percent, while the total number of roles in the newly added low budget films grew by 20.2 percent. Episodic television grew in the number of roles by 13 percent.
Non-episodic television, which is the lowest contributor in terms of roles, fell substantially from 2005 to 2006. Likely contributors to this drop off were the broadcast networks’ wholesale abandonment of so-called “Movies of the Week”—by 2006, the format moved primarily to basic cable—as well as the increase in “Reality Television” programming. Additionally, production pilots, which are another component of non-episodic television, fell in numbers from 2005 to 2006.
With the exception of the newly recorded theatrical low budgets, the data indicates a drop in the average work days per role since 2005. The result saw the number of total days worked for theatrical features to actually be lower in 2006, even though the number of roles was significantly higher. For non-episodic television, the steep decline in average days worked per role made the impact of the role loss even greater in terms of fewer days worked.
The Commitment to Diversity and the American Scene
Rosenberg added: “Screen Actors Guild’s longstanding commitment to accurately reflect the American Scene is exemplified in iActor, an invaluable database of our members that can eliminate rationalizations for exclusion by giving the employers the tools they need to identify individuals who have historically been underrepresented. The serious lack of women over the age of 40 is only one indicator that while we may be getting closer to reaching our goal of a truly representative film and television landscape, it is time for all industry stake-holders to help make it happen now and not generations from now.”
Other recent Guild efforts to enhance casting diversity and increase employment opportunities and access have included:
Hosting the American Scene National Diversity Summit on October 16, 2007, a symposium seeking realistic solutions for greater diversity in casting.
Conducting special educational and network events and training programs for women and senior performers.
Establishing the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Actors National Committee, the President’s National Task Force for American Indians and the President’s National Task Force on Spanish Language Media.
Expanding the responsibilities of the National Director of Affirmative Action/Diversity to include serving as the Senior Equal Employment Opportunity Counsel, adding a legal enforcement function to the role.
Promoting SAGIndie’s low budget and modified low budget diversity in casting incentives.
Working closely with television networks in conducting talent showcases that highlight traditionally underemployed groups of performers.
Expanding the Diversity, Special Skills and Talent Bank’s free casting service to expose studios and casting directors to diverse pools of talent.
Through advocacy, education and outreach, the Affirmative Action & Diversity Department works tirelessly to advocate diverse hiring of underrepresented groups, including minorities, women and the disabled, in the entertainment industry.
Gender and Age Statistics
Role distribution by gender continues the well-established patterns of prior years, whereby males garnered the lion’s share of roles. With regard to age, previous casting trends prevail, with a majority of roles going to actors under the age of 40. The nexus of gender and age creates an enormous impact on female performers over the age of 40 as their employment rates fall substantially compared to male counterparts over the age of 40. For example, men over 40 account for 40 percent of all roles for men, whereas women over the age of 40 make up only 26 percent of all roles for women.
Although the casting data shows highest ethnic minority representation on record, most ethnic groups were down a fraction of a percent in proportion to total roles, while the number of roles classified as “Unknown/Other” grew from 2.1 percent in 2005 to 3.3 percent in 2006. It would be impossible to determine whether the reduction in ethnic percentages are attributed to performers classified by Producers as “Unknown/Other” versus an actual drop in the ethnic group’s proportion to all roles. Therefore, the following section must be read with caution as any losses could potentially be exaggerated by the increase in “Unknown/Other” categories.
Asian/Pacific Islander is the only ethnic category to finish with a higher percentage of roles in 2006 than in 2005, growing from 3.1 percent to 3.4 percent of all roles. Highlights in this category saw the number of lead roles in episodic TV grow a net of 146 in 2006. Nearly twice as many women than men, with women under 40 continuing to be the most represented—over twice as many women under 40 than any other group. There was also evidence of continued growth in lead roles, but still mostly represented in supporting roles—nearly twice as many supporting roles than leads over past 3 years.
African-American roles as a proportion of total roles fell slightly over last year, although a more pronounced drop-off was seen in lead roles. Even as the total number of lead roles in episodic television grew by 10 percent from 2005 to 2006, the number African American lead roles fell by a net of 49 during this period. Men under 40 continue to be the most represented gender/age group with modest gains in women over 40 in supporting roles.
Latino/Hispanic roles fell slightly as a percentage of total roles in all categories from 2005 to 2006, with the exception of theatrical features. In theatrical feature presentations, their number of lead roles grew from 31 to 52, while their number of supporting roles grew from 302 to 364.
Native American Indian roles fell from 0.4 percent of total roles in 2005 to 0.2 percent of total roles in 2006. The non-episodic television category saw a net decrease of 69 roles over 2005. Excluding this category, the total number of roles for Native American Indians actually increased from 76 to 89. American Indian performers continue to be the least represented ethnic group with less than one percent share of all roles.
In comparison, Caucasian performers continue to be the other ethnic group that continues to have greater representation in lead roles than in supporting roles. While the overall number of roles fell in theatrical features and episodic television, Caucasians gained 752 roles in low budget films. This represented an increase of almost 28 percent over 2005. Men 40 and over continue to be the most represented gender/age group in both supporting and lead roles.