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Reginald Hudlin directed House Party while he was still in his 20s; produced Django Unchained, The Boondocks, and The Bernie Mac Show; and helps put on the NAACP Image Awards. So when he wants to talk about race in Hollywood, you listen. In a new essay for The Hollywood Reporter, Hudlin uses the recent Selma Oscar snub to talk about the struggles of the film industry as a whole. “It’s easier for a black person to become president of the United States than it is to be president of a movie studio,” he notes, arguing that, “given the shrinking white population in this country, the lack of people of color in the suites and on the screens is just bad business.” Though the industry will say things have improved since the ‘50s, Hudlin notes that many of the excuses for Hollywood’s lack of diversity are the same: Back then, those in power worried openly about turning off southern audiences; now they say the same thing about the international market. Both times, he says, they were wrong.
To make Hollywood walk the walk of its diversity talk, Hudlin proposes “taking action at every point in the food chain”: more internships to get young people of color into the industry, a greater emphasis on multiracial casting, and diversity bonuses for executives. Also, he says, we should change the way we talk about movies: “It would be great if the phrase ‘black film’ wasn’t just used when a movie makes less than $100 million.”