Contrary to what a panel audience might have observed, Aaron Sorkin promises that he has known about Hollywood’s diversity problem for quite some time. After the famous West Wing scribe spoke during the Writers Guild Festival on equity in writers rooms, Variety suggested news of the inequality left him “in disbelief.” Not so, says Sorkin, who clarified his comments today in the trade magazine. “I was the one who brought the subject up Saturday morning and kept coming back to the subject,” Sorkin said. Sorkin was quoted asking questions about Hollywood’s diversity problem, apparently wondering why projects by women and writers of color don’t get made. Now, Sorkin says he was actually emphasizing points in the discussion, not wondering about these ideas for the first time. “Is it because studio heads aren’t green-lighting the movies? Is it because studio executives aren’t bringing the projects to studio heads? Is that because agents are bringing the projects to studio executives? Is it because agents aren’t getting the material? I was asking questions to a group of people who understand this problem firsthand,” he said.
Since we don’t have time for a walk and talk, how about a quick primer? Hollywood’s blind spot when it comes to racial equity and gender parity is because of a cat’s cradle of everything Sorkin suggested and much more. There are fewer lead roles for women (and still, the leads are typically younger than their male counterparts). Women directors are pushed through a narrow pipeline that gives them only one shot to make a hit, usually without a lot of resources. And then studio heads are almost unilaterally white, male, and straight. Sorkin told Variety he’d asked the Writers Guild Festival audience how he could get involved — “One of the questions I asked was, ‘What can I do? If you had a remote control over me, what would you have me do on Monday?’” — so maybe that light reading could provide some perspective.