Women of Color Are Making Gains at the Box Office

‘Everything Everywhere’ and ‘Woman King’ are hit films featuring underrepresented talent.

(Bloomberg) — Women of color are making gains at the US box office, as audiences showed up to support the female actors from underrepresented groups who led some of 2022’s biggest movies.

A new report from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that 16 of the 100 top-grossing films in 2022 featured women from racial and ethnic minority groups in leading roles. That’s up from 11 of the top films released in 2021, and a 1,500% increase from 2007, when only one such film cracked the top 100. Additionally, two of the top films released last year featured nonbinary actors of color in key roles. 

Five of the films — including A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once, Sony’s The Woman King and the Universal Pictures effort Marry Me — also featured actresses of color above the age of 45 in a leading role. By comparison, none of the top 100 films of 2021 featured actresses of color 45-or-older in leading roles.

Stacy L. Smith, the founder of the Initiative in a statement said the data was “encouraging” and hopes Hollywood takes note. “It’s past time for the film industry to recognize that stories about women of color have a place in theaters. Girls and women of color are 20% of the US population, but the film industry has not ensured that this is what audiences see on screen.”

The report found that Hollywood still has work to do when it comes to reflecting the broader population. While 44% of the top 100 films featured female actors in lead or co-lead roles, the group is still underrepresented compared to their share of the overall population. 

Hollywood’s commitment to diversity slipped slightly when it came to casting actors of color overall. Only 29% of the top films featured actors of color in leading roles, down from 32% in 2021. Male actors over the age of 45 still outnumber their female counterparts in the biggest movies. The Universal Pictures films Marry Me  and Ticket to Paradise were among the ones that had both older men and women in leading roles.

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