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Communication and Media pres.

WINTER 2017 COMMUNICATION & MEDIA SPEAKER SERIES The Difficulty around Diversifying Hollywood's Labor Force and its Circumventions

Kristen Warner, Associate Professor, College of Communication and Information Sciences, University of Alabama

Professor Kristen Warner Professor Kristen Warner
Professor Kristen Warner
With less than substantial improvement to its exclusionary hiring practices, the television and film industries have nevertheless become emboldened in their apathy about the lack of diversity both in front of and behind the camera. Report after report citing the dearth of employment of creative labor of color has had little effect on how the major Hollywood players choose to conduct their business. Certainly, it is not in their best interest to admit that racial and ethnic diversity is simply a low priority or an unnecessary distraction. However, no matter how dismal the employment data, meaningful diversity just doesn’t appear to be a problem for many of those individuals in positions with enough power to do something about it. Still, how that lack of care discursively emerges is important to note as they often re-direct conversations about employment into discussions of competence and skill—ironically, concepts that still perpetuate certain ideological beliefs about racial and gendered identity.

Regardless of how many think pieces, pie charts, and data graphs that consistently demonstrate how marginalized bodies are not allowed opportunities to prove they can produce quality work, these normative models disassociate structural racism from common industry practices. The few minority workers who do enjoy some success will always function as evidence that the best talent does indeed rise to the top. Yet, such discursive logic obscures that Hollywood is an industry built around relationships, networking, internships, and apprenticeships—a classed set of practices from which people of color are systemically excluded. This talk will address how discourses of Hollywood labor erase classed and racial identity through three key strategies creatives of color employ as a consequence of those practices.

Kristen Warner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media at The University of Alabama. She is the author The Cultural Politics of Colorblind TV Casting (Routledge, 2015). Kristen's research interests are centered at the juxtaposition of televisual racial representation and its place within the media industries, particularly within the practice of casting. Warner’s work can be found in Television and New media, Camera Obscura and a host of anthologies and online websites.
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