NEW YORK CITY: Actors’ Equity Association has released its second diversity and inclusion report, three years after their first such report in 2017. The report tracks the demographics of the union’s hired acting and stage management members as well as how much they were paid for the years 2016-2019. The study finds that while there has been improvement for marginalized communities, that growth has been modest, gradual, inconsistent, and “not enough to change longtime problems in the industry,” according to a press release.
“Moving forward, Equity intends to publish a diversity report on an annual basis to hold ourselves and the entire industry accountable,” said executive director Mary McColl in a statement. “It is our duty to be part of the solution, to work to tear down barriers and rebuild a structure that is truly inclusive.”
The study, which provides national results as well as breakdowns by region and by contract (production contracts versus LORT contracts, for instance), can be read in full online.
Among the findings, the report shows that overall contracts going to people of color—defined here as individuals who “actively opt to self-identify as non-white or [non]-European American”—has increased from 15.3 percent of contracts in 2017’s study to 23.3 percent in the current study, with Black members making up 45.7 percent of that increase. The study does point out that this doesn’t necessarily indicate industry-wide improvement, citing as an example that much of the increased representation for production contracts, which generally cover Broadway as well as national and international tours, can be attributed to multiple productions of Hamilton alone.
The study also notes that these improvements can vary depending on the job category, with chorus roles tending to be the more diverse than principal roles and stage management hiring seeming to be “the most resistant to change.” This lack of diversity, according to the study, is even more pronounced among members over 65 years of age. Contracts issued to members of color skew younger compared to white members, with zero contracts from 2016 to 2019 going to a member who self-identified to the union as both over 65 and Indigenous Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Indigenous North American, or Middle Eastern/North African. Of all contracts for those 65 and older, 73.8 percent went to white members.
When it comes to gender, the study found that nationally, contracts that went to women increased from 43.5 percent of all contracts to 44.9 percent of all contracts. Of the 93,957 contracts nationally, only .65 percent went to individuals who identify as trans. The study also reemphasizes the gender pay gap, with men still earning more than everyone else, and non-binary or gender nonconforming members typically earning less than their cisgender peers.
In a press release, Equity stated that a supplemental report “breaking down the data by major theatrical markets” will be released later this year.
Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by making a donation to our publisher, Theatre Communications Group. When you support American Theatre magazine and TCG, you support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism. Click here to make your fully tax-deductible donation today!