It looks like Hollywood is getting more inclusive. Even though this is a story we have heard before, it’s all about baby steps. Change can’t really happen overnight so while this happens, we just have to navigate the terrain the best we can.

Variety Business Intelligence (VBI) released the inaugural 2021 VBI Entertainment Diversity Progress Report. The study is a comprehensive analysis of on-screen representation powered by the company’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) dataset.

JEDI data covers 1.5 million people, and includes ethnicity, country of origin, gender, LGBTQ+ and age. It is the only DEI dataset to identify ethnicities in multiethnic individuals, country of heritage, languages spoken and personal pronouns, among other attributes. The investment made by VBI in the JEDI space is driven by the company’s commitment to supporting a more equitable entertainment and media industry through respectful, accurate and unbiased demographic data.  VBI customers, including the leading streamers, networks, studios and agencies, are using JEDI data to advance representation, drive diverse hiring, meet inclusion content requirements, and evaluate their progress both internally and against peers.

“Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are core to our values at Variety Business Intelligence and why we set out to underscore the importance of accurate and respectfully sourced demographic data in achieving overdue change,” said Mark Hoebich, President, Variety Business Intelligence. “Authentic and compelling stories that inspire and engage all audiences are driven by diverse and inclusive storytellers, and we hope JEDI helps Hollywood to continue to hold itself accountable in reflecting the world around us.”

This study is unique in the granularity of its highly accurate and respectfully sourced demographic data, and compares how casting and representation of underrepresented communities on screen changed between the pre-pandemic period and Covid-19 pandemic. While there is tremendous work that still needs to be done in entertainment and media, VBI’s comprehensive study of scripted, live action projects identifies trends and highlights some key shows and films where advancement in representation is notable. VBI plans to grow its JEDI data offering in the future to include expanded ethnicities, neurodiversity and people with disabilities, among other groups.

The key findings include:

Data was compared for two eighteen-month time periods: “pre-pandemic” (10/1/18-3/31/20) and “pandemic” (4/1/20-10/1/21.).

  • Black Representation: Across all racial and ethnic groups, Black talent have seen the most improvement in the number or roles across film and episodic content, with the largest gains in television (70.5% of series released during the pandemic had a Black series regular – up notably from 65.8% pre-pandemic.) While Black representation in film remained steady in main title film roles, the number of films released with Black talent increased (58.7% vs. 56.1%).
  • Gender Representation: Women’s roles in film projects almost doubled for the time period analyzed, aided by an increase in film production and distribution. Women made up 42.7% of film roles during the pandemic (an increase from 41.6% in the 18 months prior). Films with main title roles for women went from 125 projects to 245 projects across the two time periods.  The total number of films released in each 18 month period also increased dramatically from 132 to 252. Female representation on episodic television increased to  46.6% of series regular roles held by women (up slightly from 44.5% before the pandemic).
  • Nonbinary Representation: The biggest gains ingender representation came from nonbinary talent in front of the camera in a regular or main title rol, increasing from 2.7% to 3.8% with 25 episodic television projects and from .8% to 2.8% with seven films.
  • LGBTQ+ Representation: While the percent of films with LGBTQ+ actors dropped slightly to 10.7% (vs 12.9% pre-pandemic), episodics saw the largest gains in representation with 21.8% of projects having a queer actor in them, up from 19.3% pre-pandemic.
  • Asian Representation: Asian representation in film has nearly doubled across all main title roles now standing at 9.4% and across 82 films, representing 32.5% of all movies released during the pandemic, up from 28% pre-pandemic. Episodics saw 35.9% of seasons released during the pandemic having at least one Asian series regular (up from 33.4% pre-pandemic).
  • Hispanic Representation: Hispanic talent saw the largest gains in representation in film during the pandemic, however, the percentage of shows that premiered with Hispanic series regulars in television fell to 33% from 37.1%.
  • Indigenous Representation: The number of films released with indigenous main title cast nearly doubled during the pandemic, bringing the total number to 26 films or 10.3% of the total released during that time frame. The number of series regulars increased by 1 role, bringing the total to 96 roles or 1.8% of the total series regular roles during the pandemic.
  • Middle Eastern/North African Representation: Representation for Middle Eastern and North African talent in film saw modest growth, with13 movies or 5.2% of films. The number of series regular roles dropped slightly to 1.4%, down from 1.6% pre-pandemic.

To download the full report click here.