TV Shows Created by Racial Minorities, Women Receive Smaller Budgets, New Report Shows

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Television shows created by racial minorities and white women receive smaller budgets compared to white men, according to the Hollywood Diversity Report released Oct. 27 by UCLA’s Entertainment and Media Research Initiative.

The study analyzed 407 television series that aired or streamed in 2020-2021 across cable, broadcast and digital platforms and found that white men were less likely to receive smaller budgets for each episode. It also found that during that time, white creators and men made the majority of the shows.

The report found that white men were less likely to receive smaller episodic budgets compared to racial minorities and white women.

For broadcast shows, the study found that 58.5% of white males received a budget less than $3 million per episode compared to 71.4% of minorities and 86.9% of white women. On cable platforms, 52% of white men received an episodic budget less than $3 million, the report said, compared to 70.8% of minorities and 86.7% of white women. Lastly, the study found that 38.8% of digital shows created by white men received a budget under $3 million whereas 66.6% of minorities and 51.4% of white women received that much.

Despite breakout creators like Quinta Brunson of “Abbott Elementary” and Issa Rae of “Insecure,” the industry has a long way to go when it comes to racial and gender disparities in show creation.

For scripted broadcast shows airing in 2020-21, 86.9% of them were by white creators compared to the 13.1% that were created by racial minorities, the report said, and a separate chart shows that when it comes to gender, 68.2% were created by men and 31.8% were created by women.

Representation improves slightly for scripted cable shows. 73.4% of them were by white creators and 26.6% were by racial minorities, the study found. Out of all the scripted cable shows, 68.8% were created by men and 31.2% by women. The data is comparable to digital shows: 74.4% were by white creators and 25.6% by racial minorities, the report said, and out of all series, 63.4% were by men and 36.1% by women.

In July, TODAY spoke with six Black women who have created shows, all of whom said they think it’s more difficult for them to get a show on air, let alone at a higher budget.

Nkechi Okoro Carroll created “All American: Homecoming” on the CW network and said “there are still a lot of barriers and obstacles for Black female creators and creators of color of all genders.”

She continued: “For so long, there was such a disservice done to specifically writers, to writers of color, in terms of having to repeat levels. (They were) given entry, but then not mentored up the ladder, or given opportunities to continue to hone and develop their skills to get up the ladder. You then get up top and they’re always like, ‘Well, we want a Black female showrunner, but we can’t find one.’ And it’s like, OK, but let’s talk about why there are so few of us.”

Carroll founded Black Women Who Brunch in 2016 with fellow showrunners Lena Waithe and Erika L. Johnson to connect their peers to open positions and help them reach the level of show creator.

Waithe, who created “The Chi” on Showtime, said their efforts, and others doing their part across the industry will increase representation and “only continue to grow because everybody, from what I can see, is mentoring, reaching back.”

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