Multi-ethnic coalition condemns Deadline Hollywood’s article on diversity in casting

WASHINGTON — A multi-ethnic coalition denounced Deadline Hollywood for its March 24 article on diversity in Hollywood, which, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition said in a statement issued March 25, “paints a picture of so-called ‘reverse discrimination’ in an industry in which people of color — who make up nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population — have been vastly underrepresented and caricatured since its inception to the present day.

The Deadline article focuses on the “shift toward minority castings last season, with more parts opening up to ethnic actors, a casting term used for non-Caucasian thesps,” the statement said.

The article states that “the TV and film superhero ranks have been overly white for too long, workplace shows should be diverse to reflect workplace in real America, and ethnic actors should get a chance to play more than the proverbial best friend or boss. But, as is the case with any sea change, some suggest that the pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction,” the statement said.

A few days later, on March 29, Deadline ran an interview between entertainment magazine Variety’s former Editor-in-Chief Peter Bart and Deadline’s film editor Mike Fleming Jr. Fleming said, “The only appropriate way to view racial diversity in casting is to see it as a wonderful thing, and to hope that Hollywood continues to make room for people of color. The missteps were dealt with internally; we will do our best to make sure that kind of insensitivity doesn’t surface again here. As co-editors in chief, Nellie (Andreeva) and I apologize deeply and sincerely to those who’ve been hurt by this. There is no excuse. It is important to us that Deadline readers know we understand why you felt betrayed, and that our hearts are heavy with regret. We will move forward determined to do better.””

The coalition states, “The article calls for color-blind casting, claiming that there are not enough talented people of color to fill roles and that requests for diverse talent from studios and networks cause less qualified people of color to take roles away from better qualified white actors. The article also inaccurately suggests that networks and studios have diversity quotas,” the coalition’s statement said.

American Indians in Film and Television, Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, NAACP Hollywood Bureau and National Hispanic Media Coalition issued the following statement: “Shame on Deadline for giving a platform to the prejudices of a few Hollywood agents who, under the cloak of anonymity, revealed themselves to be among the entertainment industry gatekeepers reluctant to change their unfair and exclusionary practices and make way for progress.

“The inaccuracies and misconceptions the article put forth are patently offensive and reflect a larger problem of persisting racial and ethnic bias in the entertainment industry.”

“Genuine progress in diversity on television is an extremely recent phenomenon and we applaud recent steps to diversify television in front and behind the camera. For full inclusion to happen, however, the entire industry’s discriminatory business model that has historically pushed out people of color needs to change.”

In addition to condemning the article, the coalition offered suggestions to the entertainment news outlet, and Hollywood “talent agencies who question the value of diversity”:

Deadline should take immediate steps to hire more reporters and editors of color to broaden its coverage of people of color in the entertainment industry and increase understanding of diversity’s value in the industry”; and

“People of color are poorly represented in Hollywood talent agencies. We request meetings with all of the agencies to bring our concerns and talent pools to the table, and help turn this around. Studios and networks have made it clear that diversity is good business, and clearly some agents are looking for talent in the wrong places. We can help.”

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