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Today, multicultural audiences have an increasing influence on how mainstream films and television shows are created and shaped. 

Future success in the United States entertainment business is dependent not just on which tales are told, but also on how these stories are developed and who is engaged – from concept through execution, promotion, and distribution.

There are early signs of a change in the tide of popular culture production, and more authentic multicultural narratives and characters are becoming part of the broader mainstream. 

Representation in Hollywood Is Facing a Moment of Truth

Even though the United States is a multicultural and multilingual nation, television shows featuring Hispanic, Black, or AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) talent in non-stereotypical roles have been scarce. Forty-two percent of the U.S. population is now multicultural, and growth in the AAPI, Black, and Hispanic populations outpaces that of the non-Hispanic white population.

Until recently, there has been an underrepresentation of ethnic, sexual, linguistic, and cultural minorities. Traditionally, mainstream film and television offered few opportunities for creators and actors of color. Actors were often limited to stereotypical roles with little character development that worked as secondary sidekicks to white leading roles. 

Streaming Services Are Breaking Ground, and Multicultural Audiences Are Here For the Ride

A report by McKinsey on the state of Black representation on and offscreen revealed that barriers that undermine equity in content production, finance, marketing, and distribution come at a high cost to the film and television industries. They estimate that merely removing these impediments may generate more than $10 billion in yearly income for the film and television industries. 

The evolution of entertainment technology and its move to streaming has translated into a potentially bigger reach for all kinds of content. As streaming services gain ground, authentic Asian, Hispanic, and Black stories are more common and genuinely speak to real-life experience.

Unlocking Greater Momentum Among Multicultural Consumers Starts with Understanding Them

According to My Code’s Intelligence Center report on the film and television industry, authentic portrayals of multicultural characters remain an unmet need for many, especially among AAPI audiences. Thirty-two percent of multicultural adults somewhat or strongly disagree with the statement “American TV and movie characters with the same racial / ethnic background as me are always portrayed authentically.” This figure jumps to 38% among AAPI adults.

Greater representation in front of and behind the camera can help enhance authenticity in TV and film character development and portrayals. Based on our study, 65% of U.S. multicultural adults want to see more depictions of multicultural people in ways that break racial stereotypes, 67% want to see more diversity among the actors and actresses that play leading roles, and 67% want to see more diversity among the directors and writers that influence movies.

Keeping diversity and authentic representation top-of-mind throughout project development lifecycles is critical to unlocking more momentum among multicultural viewers. Contact My Code to learn more about our report on the film and television industry.