Recent Study Shows Asians Are STILL Underrepresented in Hollywood


We may have welcomed Minho (Ki Hong Lee) from The Maze Runner and Hiro (Ryan Potter) from Big Hero 6 onto the big screen last year, but Hollywood still has a long way to go in its representation of Asians and Asian Americans.

A study released last week by University of Southern California’s Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative showed that a dismal 5.3% of all the characters that appeared in the 100 highest-grossing movies of 2014 were Asian. Meanwhile, 73.1% of the characters were white.

Additionally, over 40 movies of the top 100 did not have a single Asian character with a speaking line. Except in animated movies, the percentage of underrepresented speaking characters has not increased in recent years.

The study looked at gender, race/ethnicity and sexual orientation across 700 highest-grossing movies from 2007-2014 (excluding 2011), both on-screen and behind-the-camera.

As it turns out, the presence of minorities was just as low behind-the-camera as it was on-screen. Of the 779 directors who worked on the top 700 movies, only 19 were Asian or Asian American. And just one of those 19 directors was a woman — Loveleen Tandan, who co-directed Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

Asians are one of the fastest-growing racial/ethnic groups in the United States, and Asian-American buying power is expected to hit $1 trillion by 2018. The presence of other racial/ethnic groups also continues to grow. Yet the overwhelming majority of the characters and content creators in the country are white men.

Do Asians in entertainment exist? Absolutely. Are they being utilized? Absolutely not. We have certainly been making strides over the recent years, but it seems like we will still have to wait until Hollywood– the frontrunner of all trends– finally reflects the diversity of their audience.