How Much Does Hollywood's Diversity Debate Resonate With Americans?

Regina King_onstage_GoldenGlobes - Getty - H 2019
Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

A new Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll finds that people of color care more about inclusion issues than their white counterparts.

One of the highlights of the Jan. 6 Golden Globe Awards was Regina King's acceptance speech for best supporting actress, wherein she pledged her commitment to gender parity. "In the next two years, everything I produce is going to be 50 percent women," she said onstage. "I challenge anyone out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry, to stand with us in solidarity and do the same."

The declaration earned an ovation in the Beverly Hilton, but outside of the entertainment industry, a new Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll finds that more than 70 percent of Americans had nearly no awareness of King's pledge.

Even more survey respondents were unaware of (or had forgotten) Frances McDormand's Oscars 2018 acceptance speech, which doubled as a rallying call for the industry to adopt inclusion riders. (The poll was conducted Jan. 10-13 from a national sample of 2,201 adults with a margin of error of 2 percent.)

When it came to opinions about the inclusion rider, women tended to be slightly more supportive of the concept than men (the 2,201-person sampling was 53 percent female). Among respondents, 44 percent supported the idea of an inclusion rider while 18 percent opposed it and 38 percent offered no opinion. And in terms of racial inclusion in film, television and award shows, people of color tended to be far more concerned about the subject than their white counterparts.

Some 27 percent of white respondents considered racial diversity "very" or "somewhat" important in choosing a movie, compared with 38 percent of Hispanic Americans, 63 percent of African Americans and 36 percent of other nonwhite respondents. However, it's worth noting that the poll's sample size for people of color was smaller than that of its white sample — 81 percent of the total number surveyed were white.

In general, the adults surveyed were fairly indifferent about diversity in Hollywood, with about a quarter of the respondents consistently expressing no opinion or no concern about the issue. About a third to a half felt that there was a sufficient number of acting, directing or producing jobs for women, people of color or members of the LGBT community, although women and people of color tended to take a less sanguine view. (There was no data available on the sexual orientation of the respondents.)

There were slightly more Americans who felt that celebrities talking about diversity issues helped rather than hurt the industry, but nearly all agreed that Hollywood isn't regressing in terms of diversity. Some 36 percent of respondents said that Hollywood has grown more diverse since last year, while 4 percent believed it had grown less diverse and 25 percent agreed with the idea that "diversity in Hollywood has not changed."