What is racial inequality? It can be defined as imbalances in the distribution of power, economic resources, and opportunities. Racial inequalities in Hollywood refer to discrimination based on skin color in the American Media Industry.
What is gender discrimination? This is prejudice or discrimination based on sex. In this case, one gender is given preference over the other. There are many instances of racial and gender inequalities since Hollywood formed as the entertainment hub of America in early 1900. Since the installation of this industry, many people have faced race and gender discrimination.
Let us have a look at the historical background of racial and gender inequality in Hollywood.
History of Racial inequality in Hollywood
In the earlier days when Hollywood was installed, roles that included non-white characters were given to white characters. They played these roles in blackface, brown face, and yellow face in a demeaning manner. Most shows cast white actors to represent other ethnicities. This was around the 1830s and 1840s. Once the non-whites made it onto the big screens of Hollywood around the early twentieth century, they were granted minor background roles or forced to stereotype their characters to get the role. Interracial marriages or relationships could not be portrayed on the cameras. This was a way to exclude actors of color from getting lead roles even if their female counterpart was a character of color.
Typically, the female counterparts were white actresses disguised in blackface. Leading roles were reserved for white characters leaving a small number of remaining roles for non-white actors. More roles were available for white characters compared to non-white characters. The race is a big factor in pay disparity than gender. White women in minor roles were highly paid as compared to color actors in leading roles.
History of Gender discrimination in Hollywood
This commonly refers to the difference in pay between men and women in the industry. Usually, women have always been paid less than men. There is also a big difference in opportunities available between genders and the representation of each gender within the media.
Actors are paid higher than actresses. A survey conducted by The New York Film Academy in 2014 shows that the top ten male actors made more money compared to the top ten female actresses. The highest-paid actor made almost 2.5 times more money compared to that of the highest-paid actress. Ironically, the fourth highly paid actress was paid a sum equal to that of the 21st highly paid actor. In most Hollywood films, the majority of the directors are male.
According to a study conducted in 2007, the top 100 movies were made up of approximately 7.3% female directors compared to their male counterparts who made at least 92.7% of the total director’s panel. This clearly shows that women are highly discriminated against by men in this industry. There is also a gender gap in earnings. From 1999 to 2005, women’s earnings declined by 6% while men earnings increased by 16%