OPINION: Hollywood is failing to represent different races… but the British film industry is picking up the slack

It’s 2019 and more still needs to be done in the film industry – in some parts of the world at least.

In the last decade, Hollywood has become increasingly more inclusive. Films such as Moonlight (2016), Get Out (2017), Girls Trip (2017) and Black Panther (2018), are all led by black actors and their representation is very important in the previously segregated country.

Disney’s latest remake of The Lion King (2019) has an impressive black-led cast with stars such as Beyoncé taking on the role as Nala.

This great cast contrasts to its 1994 classic, which was largely made up of white actors.

Although listing such films might seem like the industry has drastically changed, according to the USC Annenberg report in 2017, 70.8% of actors in Hollywood are white, 13.6% are black and only 5.7% are Asian.

In Manchester, the population of different races tell a different story; 66.7% are white, 8.6% are black and 17.1% are Asian. See the difference?

Hollywood’s most recent big hit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has an all-white lead cast with its three main actors being Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie.

The Academy Awards are even more segregated than Hollywood itself, with only 17 African/Caribbean Americans, five Hispanic Americans and two Eastern Asian actors grabbing the big acting awards.

No South Asian actor has won an Oscar, despite winning other awards such as Best Costume Design, Best Original Song and Best Original Score.

Most of these awards were from the box-office hit Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

However, South Asian representation is getting its well-deserved exposure, thanks to the British film industry.

Danny Boyle’s Yesterday depicts main character Jack Malik, played by Himesh Patel, helping the world to re-discover the music of the Beatles.

Also, the director of Bend it Like Beckham (2002), Gurinder Chadha, has released a new film, Blinded by the Light, focusing on the teenage life of Sarfraz Manzoor, who found hope through the music of Bruce Springsteen.

Hollywood’s latest attempt to show South Asian representation in 2019 was in Disney’s remake of its 1992 film Aladdin.

A rather meek attempt which is only one of the hundreds of films Hollywood has produced in the past 12 months.

Last year, Eastern Asians were given their moment to shine in predominantly-led Asian films such as Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Hopefully in 2020, we will continue to see a rise of South Asian leads in Hollywood and the British film industry will help to change that.

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