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Latinos lag in lead roles on Netflix, despite gains in Asian, female representation

Latinos, who make up 19% of the U.S. population, acted in 4.5% of main cast roles on Netflix in 2021, up from 2.6% in 2018.
Image: The Netflix office building on January 20, 2022 in Hollywood, Calif.
The Netflix office building on Jan. 20, 2022 in Hollywood, Calif.Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images file
/ Source: Reuters

Netflix Inc has increased the number of Asian and women in lead roles, but still lags in representing Latinos, the disabled and women of color, a study by the streaming platform and the University of Southern California (USC) found.

While Hollywood has made strides in diversity in recent years, some communities criticize the lack of progress, both on and off screen.

To understand the lack of representation in the industry, Netflix partnered with USC and founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, to analyze the inclusion metrics of the streaming service from 2018 to 2021 based on gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and disability.

The study released on Thursday showed increased opportunities for women in lead roles, directing and key creative jobs.

However, Netflix still lacks significant representation of characters with disabilities, gender-balanced storytelling in series, roles for girls and women of color and opportunities for women writers.

Despite 27% of the U.S. population identifying as disabled, only 1.1% of all characters in Netflix films and series have a disability, the study found.

Latinos, who make up 19% of the U.S. population, acted in 4.5% of main cast roles on Netflix in 2021, up from 2.6% in 2018. That compares with 17.1% for Black actors and 9.4% for Asian actors.

Only 1.9% of writers for Netflix films have been Latino, the study said.

Asian casting has improved markedly, with 41.5% of Netflix series having an Asian lead or co-lead in 2021, after making up only 4% of leads and co-leads in both films and series in 2018.

Shows featuring girls and women have increased significantly, from 46.4% in films and 50.6% in series in 2018 to 55% for both in 2021.