diversity initiatives

CBS Vows 50 Percent of Its Reality-Show Contestants Will Be People of Color

The cast of this year’s Survivor: Winners at War on CBS. Photo: CBS via Getty Images

On Monday, CBS announced a new network commitment to cast its unscripted shows, including Survivor, Big Brother, and Love Island, with at least 50 percent Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The network also plans to allocate 25 percent of its unscripted development budget toward “projects from creators/producers who are BIPOC,” a initiative they first made public this summer.

“The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented, and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production and all phases of storytelling,” said CBS president George Cheeks in a release. “As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our Network.”

In July, numerous Black former Survivor contestants spoke out about their experience on the long-running reality competition show, alleging the series “routinely forced them into racial stereotypes in its editing, while also cutting out the racial slurs and other forms of discrimination other contestants used against them.” According to Entertainment Weekly, a group of former cast members, the Black Survivor Alliance, met with CBS executives and host Jeff Probst about how to make the show less hostile and more inclusive toward BIPOC, as did other Black former contestants.

The network has also committed to a multiyear relationship with the NAACP “to establish a production venture that develops and produces programming,” and pledged to make their writers’ rooms at least 40 percent BIPOC, with a goal of 50 percent for the 2022 to 2023 television season.

CBS Vows Half of Its Reality-Show Contestants Will Be BIPOC