The number of top-grossing films featuring women and women of color rose slightly last year, according to an annual study released Thursday by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC, but the number of films featuring people of color has declined.


Of the 100 highest-grossing domestic films released in 2022, 44% featured female-identified actors in leading or co-leading roles, up from 41% in 2021, which is less than 50% of the U.S. population comprised of women.

This is an improvement from 2007, when only 20% of the top 100 films had women in leading or co-leading roles.

Of those same 100 films, 29% featured an actor from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group in a lead or co-lead role, up from 32% in 2021 but down from 13% in 2007, and notably under 40s. .7% that these groups make up in the US population.

The biggest increase was for women of color: 16 of the top 100 movies in 2022 featured a woman of color in a lead role, up from 11 in 2021; two films also featured non-binary actors in leading or co-leading roles.

Women over 45 starred in 10 of the top movies last year, compared to 35 movies starring men in that age group in leading roles.

Large number

31%. This is the number of the top 100 films per year since 2007 (1,600 in total) featuring a woman or a girl.

Key context

Women and people of color have always been excluded from leading roles in movies, as well as in the director’s chair. In 2015, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite went viral, when the Academy – whose voting members were overwhelmingly white – nominated 20 white actors for its honors. The creator of the movement, April Reign, wrote for Variety in 2020 that she’s often been pushed back along the lines of, “Well, there just weren’t enough diverse movies to name.” And while people of color are still underrepresented, there has been progress, making their exclusion from awards shows a noticeable problem. “When we have this wealth of talent in front of and behind the camera, and they are still not recognized by what is considered the pinnacle of the industry, then we have to take a closer look” at the Academy and the industry, Reign wrote. . In 2018, Natalie Portman made headlines when she called out the “all-male nominees” at the Best Director Golden Globe awards. The Oscars did not name any women in their Best Direction category this year.

crucial quote

“The pace of change in the industry is certainly not breakneck,” the Annenberg study said. “The advocacy and activism that may have fueled change in the mid to late 2010s may have had a short-term impact, but more is needed to achieve lasting improvement.”


Some of the 2022 films led by women of color included Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, No, Shout, Everything everywhere all at once And The female king. Those performances garnered accolades at last month’s Golden Globes, where winners included Michelle Yeoh (Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy) and Angela Bassett (Best Supporting Actress in any Motion Picture), both of which were also nominated for Oscars. .

Further reading

Golden Globes 2023: ‘Abbott Elementary’, ‘The Banshees Of Inisherin’ win big (Forbes)

2023 Oscar Nominations: ‘Everything, Everywhere, All at Once’ Headliners Pack (Forbes)

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