Hollywood’s DEI Backslide Does Not Reflect Audience Demand, USC’s Dr. Stacy L. Smith Says

“When execs get nervous, they tend to rely on what they know,” the head of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative tells TheWrap

Dr. Stacy L. Smith (Credit: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
Dr. Stacy L. Smith (Credit: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

As the word “diversity” became one of the most spoken in Hollywood on the wave of #OscarsSoWhite and #MeToo, Dr. Stacy L. Smith’s USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative became one of the foremost barometers of the entertainment industry’s success or lack thereof in bringing new, underrepresented voices into the production pipeline.

Now, with DEI executives resigning en masse and a far-right backlash to such initiatives on the rise, the program’s founder fears that Hollywood is in the midst of backslide, through no fault of the writers, directors and other creatives who got those new opportunities. Her team’s most recent study shows that despite the success of Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” 2023 saw a significant dip when it comes to representation in theatrical films.


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