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Inclusion Toolkit: 5 Ways You Can Support Inclusion in the Entertainment Industry

Inclusion Toolkit: 5 Ways You Can Support Inclusion in the Entertainment Industry

July 31, 2018 With the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards around the corner, the entertainment industry is continuing the conversation around inclusion and equality of opportunities, with diversity in the spotlight throughout nomination categories. One major milestone came when Sandra Oh made history this year as the first Asian actress to be nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her riveting performance in Killing Eve.

How can you work towards inclusion in the entertainment industry? The New York Film Academy has put together this simple toolkit to help you navigate the road ahead:


The first step toward equality is starting the conversation. Raising awareness of inequality and advocating for inclusion makes a difference, and there are numbers to prove it!

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has found that the entertainment industry is listening. In a recent pulse-check, they found that 68% of content executives who had received their data had gone on to use what they learned from the institute by changing two or more projects in development -- which translates directly to jobs for underrepresented groups.

Check out these incredible sources for news and data on the changing landscape of the entertainment industry:
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative


On your project, in your company, in your classroom, you can commit to a specific goal to increase inclusion, whether it’s making sure someone who is usually silent has a chance to speak or committing to an all-female film crew, as NYFA alum Assem Yedgey recently did. If you see that inclusion is not happening in your workplace, school, or project, speak up! Make sure women and minorities are represented, whether on screen or behind-the-scenes.

Not sure how to set a specific goal and want some specific legalese to help guide your way? Check out this Inclusion Rider template from USC Annenberg!


The facts show that women continue to be underrepresented in the film industry. Yet USC Annenberg says there’s a very easy way for content creators to achieve equality for representation of women on screen: "just add five female speaking characters to every film."

By their research, just adding five speaking female roles to a project will bring us to near-equality of gender representation in just three years!

Why does this matter? The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found that increasing representation of girls and women on-screen, even in supporting and background roles, can have a huge social effect: “90% of women globally feel that female role models in film or TV are important, 61% said female role models in film and TV have been influential in their lives and 58% said that women have been inspired to be more ambitious or assertive.”

But this doesn’t apply only to women.

This “just add 5” rule of thumb can apply to creating speaking roles and representation for other marginalized groups, from underrepresented ethnic minorities to the LGBTQI+ community, from actors with diverse bodies to actors with disabilities.


Another wonderful milestone in this year’s Primetime Emmys race is the cultural diversity represented by various nominees, from shows (Atlanta, black-ish, Westworld, Insecure, This is Us, Killing Eve), to actors (Issa Rae, Sandra Oh, Donald Glover, Zazie Beetz, Viola Davis, Brian Tyree Henry, Tony Shalhoub, Thandie Newton, Leslie Jones, John Legend, Regina King, and Antonio Banderas, to name a few).

We’re seeing breakthroughs for diversity in other corners of the industry, too. The Venice Film Festival’s Venice Days announced a lineup of films that are 50% directed by women. Nicole Maines will become TV’s first-ever transgender superhero in the fourth season of the CW’s Supergirl. And Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland is developing a slew of original content with Netflix, tackling such topics as 20th century African-Americans fleeing Jim Crow and sexual harassment in Silicon valley.

Even those of us not in the running for an Emmy can work to make sure we’re continuing to see stories of diversity and underrepresented minorities on screen, by putting our money behind projects that support representation and inclusion. Stream, buy tickets for, and share inclusive series and films.


Not everybody is a critic, it turns out: a study titled Thumbs Down: Film Critics and Gender, and Why It Matters published recently by San Diego State University shows that male film critics in general outnumber female critics 2-to-1.

Variety quotes study author Martha Lauze as stating, “These gender imbalances matter because they impact the visibility of films with female protagonists and/or women directors, as well as the nature of reviews.”

A similar study from USC Annenberg showed that film criticism, like other aspects of the entertainment industry, is still largely dominated by white males. Of the top 19,559 critical reviews of the top 100-grossing films of last year:

How can you work towards inclusion in criticism? Pay attention to the voices of the critics you’re reading and relying upon, and seek out criticism penned by women and minorities. (And why not lend your own voice to the conversation by reviewing your favorite inclusive films and series yourself?)


Last but not least, you can support inclusion by creating your own original content, and telling your own stories. By raising your own voice and making your own art, you can contribute to the diversity and representation of the wider arts community.

Learn the skills you need to create your own original content at the New York Film Academy (NYFA).

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