Each year, the movies feature more women and people of color — but still only 40.2% of the actors are women and 32.7% were people of color, according to an analysis of films in 2018 and 2019 by the University of California, Los Angeles. Behind the camera, things get worse: 15.1% of films are directed by women and only 14.4% were directed by people of color. Compare this to the general population, in which women account for 50% and people of color just under 40%.
Queen Latifah is out to change all that, improving diversity behind the scenes and bringing more unique stories in front of the camera. The Queen Collective, which she spoke about at Signal 2020, is focused on creating a pipeline of multicultural women directors by providing mentorship, production support and distribution opportunities, including through a partnership with P&G.
“People in positions of power in the entertainment industry see with blinders on, only seeing people who look like themselves, typically white men,” she says. “Every time I’ve gotten in a position of power, I’ve demanded that my crews reflect what the world looks like. So I want to make sure that there’s opportunity for everyone, and that everybody feels a sense of connection to that project and to that job.”
Hear more about the Queen Collective from Latifah’s appearance at Signal 2020:
Skip to these highlights in the video:
6:19 — As directors and producers, they already had a track record, all they needed was more opportunity. And so it was exciting for us to be able to help provide an opportunity for them to really just bring their stories to fruition. That’s what it’s all about. And we know that if they would have they had the opportunity to do that. They would then pay it forward through the people that they hired in their crews.
6:55 — We felt the pipeline would be open and people in all departments of making a film — which can be up to 200 people — would have an opportunity. And they tend to hire people that are very diverse behind that camera when you are one of us. Someone who looks like me tends to want to open up the world and give more opportunities.
7:43 — Get a look at “Gloves Off,” a film by Queen Collective director Ugonna Okpalaoka about police brutality
9:57 — Get a look at “Tangled Roots” about hair discrimination by Queen Collective director Samantha Knowles.
16:56 — I’ve experienced racism and systemic racism my whole life. As a woman rapper — female rappers were not given the same amount of marketing dollars that male rappers were. And definitely not given the same budgets as our counterparts were receiving from major record labels. So just to get your feet planted in this world of hip-hop it was already an uphill battle.
18:39 — To face obstacle after obstacle… it’s just annoying. It seems like it’s a no-brainer that if you’ve got a great idea, let’s make it happen. Many times I’ve run into people in the film industry who have all the power in the world and none of the ability to really create, to recognize a great idea. They are the ones with their hands on the button, the button of power, the button money, the button of opportunity.