While diversity in Hollywood has progressed over time, there’s still much improvement to be made. Not only is diversity important for representation and storytelling, but audiences actually want and seek out diverse television and movie content. Just look at the success of films like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. There are many women in Hollywood who are not only vocal about the need for greater diversity, but take action. Let’s look at a few of these women who are changing the game for diversity in Hollywood.
Mindy Kaling is the wearer of many hats as an actress, comedian, writer and producer, and her show The Mindy Project saw her become the first woman of colour to create and star in a successful sitcom on a major network.
The thing I love about Kaling is that she creates funny, original content that just so happens to have an Indian woman as the lead. While jokes about Kaling’s ethnicity and racial stereotypes is a key source of humour on The Mindy Project, the story isn’t centred around the character’s race or her looks, it’s just a part of who she is.
She recognises the responsibility she has as a creator to ensure diversity, saying “The actual way to change it, if you’re an employer, is just to set standards… My cast is going to look a certain way. Because we’re really the people who can make changes. If you’re an employer, you can do it.”
Gina Rodriguez is an actress, best known for playing the lead in Jane The Virgin. She’s also a very vocal advocate for greater diversity and the portrayal of minorities in the media.
Rodriguez launched an online campaign with the hashtag #MovementMondays to support Latino actors. She highlights various Latino members of the film and television industry, saying “Each Monday I will highly a Latino actor we can support. Let us use our numbers and powerful voices to prove we support one another, to prove we can make a box office it, to prove they need to support all the various Latino cultures in the media.”
Rodriquez’s new Netflix movie Someone Great sees her starring and producing. And as a producer, she made clear the need to have an inclusive cast – “to have the cast look like the world I walk through.”
Jameela Jamil is an actress and model, best from her role as Tahani from the hit show The Good Place. She’s also a tireless activist for representation and inclusive beauty standards.
Jamil started the I Weigh campaign, a movement that has had such huge reach and success. Her mission is for a woman’s worth to not be defined by what she looks like or what she weighs, which is all too common in our body-centric culture. She’s described it as a “revolution against shame and self-hatred over our looks, perpetuated by the media.”
This year she became a model for Aerie and was part of the inclusive campaign that featured a plus size model, a Paralympian, a South Asian woman, an African American woman, a gay woman and a blind woman, saying “I’ve never seen a campaign like this before that represents so many minorities, and I’m proud to be in it.”
Lena Waithe is a screenwriter, producer and actress, who is passionate about authentic representation and storytelling in Hollywood.
She made history when she became the first African American women to win an Emmy for comedy writing. The award was for the ‘Thanksgiving’ episode of television series Master of None which Waithe co-wrote and starred in. Through this story she sheds light on cultural expectations within the black community and shows audience what it means to be black and gay from a female perspective.
Waithe doesn’t just create content, she also works hard to open the doors for people of colour and queer artists into the world of film and television. She is the co-chair on the Committee of Black Writers at the Writers Guild and works with aspiring writers through The Blacklist, a platform where people can pay to upload their scripts and get feedback from professionals.
While we’re fighting for diversity and inclusiveness now, I hope we reach a point where people view this kind of content is not as diverse, but simply real and authentic.