More

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.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less
Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash (left), Kimberly Zapata (right)

Picking a psychiatrist is a precarious situation, one I know all too well. I have bipolar disorder, depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. I have been in and out of therapy for nearly 20 years. And while I have left doctors for a wide variety of reasons—I've moved, I felt better and "been better," I've given up on pharmacology and stopped taking meds—I've only had to fire one.

The reason? She was judgemental and disrespectful. In her office, I wasn't seen, heard or understood.

To help you understand the gravity of the situation, I should give you some context. In the spring of 2017, I was doing well and feeling good, at least for the most part. My family was healthy. I was happy, and life was more or less normal, so I stopped seeing my psychiatrist. I decided I didn't need my meds.

But by the summer, my mood was shifting. I was cycling (which occurs when bipolar patients vacillate between periods of mania and depression) and when I suffered a miscarriage that fall, I plunged into a deep depressive episode—one I knew I couldn't pull myself out of.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo from Dole
True

As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

Keep Reading Show less
via @Kingkeraun / Twitter

Keraun Harris, who goes by the name King Keraun, is a popular comedian on social media who's appeared as an actor on HBO's "Insecure" and ABC's "Black-ish."

On Monday, he posted a video on Twitter sharing the story of how a white woman had his back during a recent traffic stop.

"I just got pulled over, and for the first time, I watched a white woman record my whole traffic stop," she said.

Keep Reading Show less
via Tania / Twitter

Therapy animals have become a controversial issue of recent, even though they've helped over 500,000 people overcome psychological and physical issues that have made it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

It's because countless people have tried to pass off their pets as service animals, making it hard for legitimate, trained animals to gain acceptance in public.

So when people hear about emotional support llamas, they're met with understandable cynicism. However, studies show they are great at helping children with autism spectrum disorder, and they are routinely used to cheer up people residents in retirement homes.

Keep Reading Show less