J.J. Abrams has a plan to put Hollywood on the path to diversity.

In response to the Oscars controversy, the 'Star Wars' director has big plans.

You've probably heard lately that diversity in Hollywood is not looking good.

In fact, just last month, the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism released its annual report on diversity in entertainment media.

The study found that across writers, directors, and actors, Hollywood has a tendency to be very white and very male — disproportionately white and male. We even put together some cropped photos to illustrate how skewed the whole mess is when compared to the actual representation groups have in the U.S. population.


One reason this problem continues is that the people who have the power to make a difference (who are often white and male) don't see that discrimination is happening because it doesn't happen to them.

Just two weeks after the conversation around #OscarsSoWhite, producer/director J.J. Abrams told the Hollywood Reporter that he'd like to see things change in the hiring process.



Abrams has seen firsthand how well movies led by women and people of color can do at the box office.

He directed a little movie you may have heard of called "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Know that one? The one with the cast that looked like this:

Lupita Nyong'o, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney.

That movie did pretty OK at the box office, bringing in more than $1 billion and breaking all sorts of box office records. The excuse that movies won't make money unless they center on white men simply doesn't hold water.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Hunger Games" franchise prove that women can lead badass action films. The "Pitch Perfect" franchise, "Bridesmaids," and "Spy" demonstrate that yes, people are interested in seeing female-fronted comedies.

And when it comes to people of color, the same thing goes: Yes, movies with predominantly black, Latino, or Asian casts can also be commercial successes. "Straight Outta Compton," "Beasts of No Nation," and "Creed" saw commercial and critical success this year. Sadly, though, movies led by women and people of color are still way underrepresented in society.

Using the data from the USC Annenberg report, you can see just how off-kilter and unrealistic some of Hollywood's proportions are.

Let's take a look at gender. The study found that 71.3% of speaking parts in movies went to men, despite the fact that men make up a little less than half of the U.S. population.

Upworthy original. Data: Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment, U.S. Census.

For directors, the comparison is even worse. In the film industry, female directors are almost nowhere to be found. The same goes for writers: Nearly 9 in 10 writers in Hollywood are men.

Creating a more diverse cast and crew makes for a stronger, more well-rounded entertainment experience. A focus on diversity isn't just for diversity's sake, but for the benefit of audiences too.

As Abrams says in his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the goal isn't simply to have more diverse writers, directors, and actors, but to create better films.

Just two weeks after the #OscarsSoWhite backlash hit the entertainment industry, Abrams' production company, Bad Robot, enacted a new policy for hiring directors, writers, and actors. For each new project, teams will be required to submit job candidates in line with the proportions of the U.S. population.

He explains the reasoning in the interview:

Does this mean the final product of Abrams' future films will be completely and totally balanced? Of course not.

This new setup has to do with the interview and submission process, not the hiring. So fear not, Internet commenters ready to smear this plan as affirmative action run amok (I see you getting those tweeting fingers ready to go), this is nothing like that. It is, instead, a path forward to a more authentic (and better) Hollywood experience for everyone involved.

More

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
via Hollie Bellew-Shaw / Facebook

For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

truth
True