Study: How Hollywood Casting Directors are Reinforcing Gendered Racial Stereotypes

Hollywood Oscars

Hollywood Oscars

A new study suggests Hollywood reinforces gender and racial stereotypes.

A Hollywood diversity report released by the USC's Annenberg School of Media and Journalism notes that, among other things, Latinas and Black women are most likely to star in Hollywood films only when they are dressed in "sexy attire." Don't Mess with Texas DFree /

What the report says

The report, which looks at inequality across "Gender, Race, and LGBT Status" in the top 100 films from 2014, pointed out that 30.6 percent of Latinas and 29 percent of Black women in movies with major roles are shown wearing sexually explicit clothing, as compared to 27.5 percent of White women and 25.7 percent of Asian women. Despite the sexualization of women of color, only 9.7 percent of Latinas and 11.6 percent were referenced as "attractive." Compare this to men, where Black men were more likely than any other race to be shown in "Sexy attire" at 11.8 percent, compared to 1.4 percent of Asian men. Essentially, Hollywood's casting directors and producers are reinforcing gender and racial stereotypes.

Here are the Hollywood statistics

Oscar Selfie Here are some more fun statistics you should know:

A total of 21 of the 100 top films of 2014 featured a female lead or roughly equal co lead. This is similar to the percentage in 2007 (20%), but a 7% decrease from the 2013 sample (28%).

In 2014, no female actors over 45 years of age performed a lead or co lead role. Only three of the female actors in lead or co lead roles were from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds.

No female leads or co leads were Lesbian or Bisexual characters.

Hollywood diversity sucks for minority directors


These numbers are even worse for women in the director's chair. In the 100 top-grossing films of 2014, only five were Black, and only one, Ava DuVernay, the director of Selma, was a woman.

There were zero Asian or or Latino directors, man or woman. That is in part because there were only two woman directors total in the top-grossing films of 2014: DuVernay, and Angelina Jolie, for Unbroken. 

In fact, between 2007 and 2014, only 28 women worked as directors in the top-grossing 100 films in each year.

But is it really casting director's fault?

Leonard Zhukovsky /

It begs the question, if diversity is so bad in Hollywood, then why would casting directors continue to reinforce such horrible stereotypes? The answer may not be that easy to fix.

In an interview with Orange is the New Black casting director Jennifer Euston described Hollywood's changing stance on diversity.

From NPR:

Euston says she makes casting recommendations, but the showrunners make the final call on which actors to hire. And it's the showrunners and writers who put together the storylines. Euston has often been handed scripts that almost exclusively feature Caucasian men. In those cases, she says, "you do your best to sort of offer alternatives, if you can."

But Euston argues that TV shows are slowly starting to feature a broader range of characters. In fact, she is optimistic that TV shows will feature more women and minorities, especially on streaming platform such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. "I don't think it's a trend," she says. "It's evolutionary." And more important, she adds, "It's successful."

The full breakdown, with many more depressing numbers, can be found here.