Lack of diversity in films bad as ever

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HOUSTON, TX -- Hey, did you catch that big movie last year about the 45-year-old woman who did that amazing thing? Yeah, neither did we. It never came out.

In fact, none of the 100 top grossing films last year featured female leads 45 or older, according to researchers at the University of Southern California. Only 30% of speaking parts in films were women, despite being 52% of the population.

"What Hollywood has interestingly been able to do," says Houston filmmaker Michelle Mower, "is to take a majority of their ticket buyers and treat them as if they were a niche market-- their female market."

Mower has shot three films here in Houston but could not get in to talk to the big studios, "If a female comes to Hollywood trying to pitch a story about a woman from the female perspective, then they say, 'Oh, you should go to Lifetime' or 'You should go to WeTV.'"

And that's just what she did! Mower took her film "The Preacher's Daughter" to Lifetime and got some of the biggest ratings that network had ever seen.

But that was TV, not movie theaters. Only 21 of the top 100 theatrical films last year had female leads, and just three of those were minorities.

Like Viola Davis said so profoundly at the Emmys,"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."

But it seems those roles are starting to appear this year. "Straight Outta Compton' and "The Perfect Guy,' both with predominantly African-American casts, topped the box office in the last month. "So clearly, there's an audience for those kinds of stories," says Mower.

"The powers that be in Hollywood who are doing the hiring are hiring people that look like them.," she adds, referring to the prevalence of white folks at the top in Tinseltown. "They're not taking risks on people of color, they're not taking risks on women. "

They better get that in check or more folks might start staying home with TV programs and streaming series that better reflect the world in which they live.

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