Forbes has released its list of the top-paid actresses of the past year. It’s um, well, quite homogeneous.
From Sandra Bullock ($51 million) to Kristen Stewart ($12 million), there was nary an actress of color to be found, just like last year. And the year before that. And the year before that, too. Do we need to keep going with this? (But what about Cameron Diaz, who clocked in at number six, this year, you ask? Her father Emilio was Cuban and of Spanish extraction. Diaz’s ethnicity may be Cuban, but when it comes to race, she’s white, and so are the characters she’s portrayed.)
Multiple examinations of the film industry have shown it doesn’t accurately reflect the makeup of the American populace, but even the list of this year’s top-paid actors included Dwayne Johnson (who is black and Samoan) and Will Smith. So why is it so difficult for actresses of color to break into the top 10? Even Zoe Saldana, who boasts a number of mainstream, big-budget credits including “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Star Trek Into Darkness,” is nowhere to be found.
A recent University of Southern California study found that Latinos are 17 percent of the nation’s population but get less than 5 percent of its film roles. While black actors are often shoved into ensemble casts that are predominantly black or struggle to get speaking roles in more diverse films, their Latino counterparts fare even worse. Said KPCC:
There has been no significant change since 2007 in the number of non-white actors in top films, said Stacy L. Smith, director of USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative and author of the study being released Monday.
“The only obstacle here is imagination,” Smith said in an interview.
She said that the number of black directors remained low — 6 percent of all directors in the study — and they were much more likely to use diverse casts. Hispanic directors were not counted.
“What we’re seeing in the aggregate is very few folks not white and male being able to participate behind the camera,” Smith said. “So the [onscreen] landscape remains primarily white and male. When you do have diversity behind the camera, things start to shift.”
There aren’t just disparities in race when it comes to the highest echelons of Hollywood. As Forbes noted, the combined income of the women on this list, which comes to roughly $226 million, pales in comparison to the $419 million haul raked in by their male counterparts.
Here’s the list in full: