Lack of Black Hollywood Execs ‘Harming’ African-American Community, NAACP Report Says

Silhouette of working people or production film crew are making (Credit: Deposit Photos)

The NAACP says more Black executives are needed in Hollywood to greenlight projects and change the narrative Black audiences see in movies and television.

A new report from the organization titled “The Black Executive: A Partial Solution to Psycho-Social Consequences of Media Distortions,” released Wednesday, looks into the negative impact of media images on the Black community as well as the need for Black executives at various levels within the film and television industries.

The study was commissioned by the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, in collaboration with Darnell Hunt, PhD, Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA, and MEE Productions, a communications, marketing and behavioral-change firm.

It found “Hollywood Images are Harming the African-American community – media content informs and misinforms opinions about Black people, ultimately influencing perceptions and behaviors, followed by laws and policies that govern and define social circumstances with steep psycho-emotional consequences.” the report said.

Other findings included the “explicit and subliminal cues embedded within media messages about Black life” are all choices of executives within the industry and the damaging consequences the negative portrayal of Blacks in the media can have on Black audiences.

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“Hollywood’s casual disregard for authenticity and dimension is literally inflicting harm on the well-being of African-American communities. This must stop,” Hunt said. “Instead, media companies must dedicate themselves to a wholesome alternative – including more Black executives in green-lighting and development decisions, since their voices lend the perspective that’s all too often missing.”

According to Hunt’s research, in 2020, film studio CEOs were 91 percent white and 82 percent male, while television network CEOs were 92 percent white and 68 percent male, a gender improvement compared to their film counterparts. The report also noted that there were no Black CEOs or members of the senior management team at the major studios in early 2020, and only 3.9 percent of major studio unit heads were Black.

After surveying 55 Black executives in Hollywood, Hunt found that they felt Hollywood was still not meeting the needs of its diverse audiences.

Respondents felt frustration with the gatekeeping process and called for more Black executives to have a final say on projects.

“The closer a project gets to being programmed, the higher up the ladder it needs to get approved. And the higher up the ladder you go, the less diverse the industry is overall,” one executive said.