As a minority entertainment industry professional and having been a victim and survivor of discriminatory actions within the network of Hollywood, I would like to shed some light on and for whom the bell really tolls from an alternate perspective of inclusion, ownership and acceptance of responsibility.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have listened to the bell ringers complain about the injustices (i.e. lack of diversity, inequity of pay for female actors, etc.) within the entertainment industry, however, not one of the aforementioned bell ringers for diversity, justice, and equal pay for everyone have taken accountability for their own contributions or role in helping to establish the treacherous terrain that we all have tread within the entertainment landscape.
Hollywood has two sides.
A good side that explores the "beauty of storytelling" and then there is the bad side which is all about ones own "self promotion and preservation." This bad side fosters a "what's in it for me?" globally prejudicial and nepotistic type of environment. I have witnessed time after time the war games perpetuated by actors, writers, directors, agents, managers, production executives and even studio heads all driven by a "take no prisoners" mentality in order to obtain/acquire what Hollywood considers the "prize of the moment."
This issue of trying to foster equitability in Hollywood can be resolved not by "self-promotion" but "self-application" of the following: Recognize the environment you are in and build according to its foundation. If you want change, then change the way you build, empower and support one's journey navigating the Hollywood system. For instance, instead of passing over that one young assistant of color, or woman or guy who came to Hollywood without an "in," why not take a vested interest in them? Todays "trade" is tomorrows "competition." Why not help them succeed and get promoted at the Agency, Studio, Network, Management Company, Casting Office, Production Company, Guild or Union. I'm sure we all have seen "Swimming With Sharks" and it is those "assistants" whom you usually ignore, that are engaged in a war for equality, opportunity or fighting battles on your behalf...lest we forget they do and shall become the voting and deal-making executives of tomorrow.
Your sphere of influence is not only meaningful to the general public, but it is also impactful in the career currency of the generation you are trying to change and enlighten now. So before anyone else boycotts the Oscars or does a sound bite on a red carpet about the injustices (which we do appreciate the acknowledgement), take a moment and consider this: Make an effort to change the industry from within by reflecting on how you contribute to the problem. Are you ensuring that while you are demanding equal pay in lead film/television roles, that your own team/production, (e.g. your agent's female or male assistant) is receiving fair pay and not less than minimum wage? Is your production company a diverse reflection of what you stand for in your own executive ranks and in the stories that you try to pitch? As you highlight the need for more diversity at the studio/network level, have you looked for those hard working assistants or junior executives and personally request to bring them to key events, like the Oscars? Have you asked those same working assistants or junior executives to creative production meetings to help them network in a fashion that will be mutually beneficial and can help change the industry for the better?
It takes a brave person, to search within, identify a need for change and make a conscious alternate decision to do better. Hopefully this alternate perspective and additional insight will prompt the ambassadors of storytelling to implement inclusion in every area of Hollywood and the entertainment community, because this book is way overdue!!
The New Hollywood 10