Two in three Black Americans don’t feel they see their stories represented on-screen, according to a new study from National Research Group (NRG).
The study, entitled “#RepresentationMatters,” also found that 67% of Americans across political ideologies and ethnicities feel there is a greater need on-screen representation of all of the following: mixed race individuals, Black men, Black women, Black children, Black teenagers, Black gay men, Black gay women, Black transgender men, Black transgender women, Black non-binary or genderqueer, Black men with disabilities and Black women with disabilities.
Additionally, 74% of those polled reported that content being inclusive (representing different cultures or people) is a key factor when they are choosing what they will watch.
“The high level of consumer interest in diverse stories and voices surfaced very strongly in this research. We believe our insights can inspire creators and marketers to get behind stories that offer a fresh point of view and bring to light more multi-faceted identities,” says Cindi Smith, vice president, diversity, equity and inclusion practice, National Research Group.
For this study, NRG polled almost 1400 Americans between the ages of 18 and 54 who are heavily engaged with pop culture. The study shows that 91% of them overall believe media has the power and ability to influence society, and 77% of them reported that they believed the way Black Americans, specifically, are portrayed in the media will influence people’s perceptions of real-life Black Americans. (When looking at the Black Americans polled, 87% believe portrayal influences real-world perception.) Digging further, 66% of everyone polled believes the media currently perpetuates negative stereotypes of Black people, while 83% of Black Americans polled believe that.
Although the study also shows that significant progress has been made since the 1960s, there are systemic problems that are still far from being resolved. For example, 62% of everyone polled feels Black writers and directors are still underrepresented in Hollywood, which can lead to less representation on-screen, as well. (Out of the Black Americans polled, 77% felt this way.) Seventy-nine percent of Black Americans also note it is “obvious” when Black characters or characters of color are not written by people of color.
This study was conducted from September 5-8 of this year, with consumer interviews conducted in partnership with Dynata, Prodege, Marketcube, and DISQO. NRG additionally conducted eight in-depth expert interviews with media/cultural theorists, NGOs and NPOs, and industry leaders to inform the research.
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