Number of Asian Hollywood Directors Saw Virtually 'No Change' in 10 Years: Report

Image: An Oscar statue is seen at the nominations announcement for the 87th Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California
An Oscar statue is seen at the nominations announcement for the 87th Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 15, 2015. PHIL McCARTEN / Reuters

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By Charles Lam

The number of directors of Asian descent represented in the 100 highest-grossing films of each year saw virtually "no change" from 2007 to 2016, according to a report released Wednesday by the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

The report found that over 1,000 surveyed films, only 34 — or 3.4 percent — had an Asian director. Of those projects, 31 were helmed by men while three were directed by women.

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"Consistent with female and Black helmers, there has been no change in the percentage of Asian directors from 2007 to 2016," the report, written by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Dr. Katherine Pieper, and Marc Choueiti, read.

The 34 directing credits were held by 17 different people, according to the report, 2.8 percent of the 612 unique overall directors. According to estimates from the 2015 American Community Survey, 5.1 percent of the U.S. population was of Asian descent.

"Examining the racial diversity of directors reveals that Black and Asian helmers are vastly outnumbered and have fewer opportunities to work than their non-Black or non-Asian counterparts," the report read. "Female directors who are Black and/or Asian, in particular, are rarely seen behind the camera."

The report also floated several possible solutions, noting that recent "activism, advocacy, and attempts to address director diversity" have failed to affect change. Among the solutions were in-demand actors adding language to their contracts requiring that efforts be made to make films more diverse and strengthening director mentorship programs.

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"Over a significant period of time of time the role of the director has been the domain of White men," the report reads. "Unless the industry relies on evidence-based solutions, it is very likely that this trend will continue."

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