J.J. Abrams has made a decision to increase diversity on and off the screen with a new policy change for his production company, Bad Robot, and those that provide it talent.
Abrams, who was already receiving accolades for the diverse cast in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” says the #OscarsSoWhite controversy was a “wake-up call” and led him to make the change.
He has partnered with the agency CAA and his studio partners, Warner Bros. and Paramount, to require that women and minorities are considered for writing, directing, and acting jobs at Bad Robot in a way that’s proportional to their representation in the U.S. population.
“We’re working to find a rich pool of representative, kick-arse talent and give them the opportunity they deserve and we can all benefit from,” Abrams told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s good for audiences and it’s good for the bottom line.”
The writer, director, and producer previously said of diversity at Comic-Con in 2015: “I think it’s important people see themselves represented in film. I think it’s not a small thing.”
There is evidence to back up Abrams’ statement that diverse productions make money. A recent UCLA study found that movies and TV shows that reflect realistic diversity do better than their less-diverse competition.
Policies similar to Bad Robot’s are now being adopted all over Hollywood.
“There’s definitely a big conversation taking place right now in our business,” Management 360 partner Darin Friedman told THR. “From both the filmmaker side and the buyer side, there’s a push for more diverse stories. It’s happening in a genuine way: an understanding that the cast or the directors who get hired should reflect the way the world looks.”
Diverse stories already in the pipeline this year include a movie about President Obama and Michelle Obama’s first date, and Disney’s “Dr. Q,” about a Mexican immigrant.
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