University Study Examines the Racial Gap in Hollywood Director’s Chairs

A new study led by Stacy L. Smith, an associate professor of communication at the University of Southern California and the director of the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, shows that Blacks have been directors of very few of Hollywood’s most successful productions over the past decade. The data shows that of 100 top grossing films each year during the 2007-to-2017 period, only 64 were directed by African Americans. And only four of those were directed by Black women.

There has been no progress over the past decade. In 2007, eight of the top grossing films had a Black director. This total has not been achieved again since that time.

During this period, 108 of the top 1,110 highest-grossing Hollywood films were distributed by Walt Disney Studios. Not one was directed by an African American, according to the report. In contrast, 18 of the 98 films distributed by Lionsgate, 18 had a Black director.

The full study, Inclusion in the Director’s Chair? Gender, Race, and Age of Directors in 1,100 Films From 2007 to 2017, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Related Articles


  1. There are endless studies. We already know that racial minorities and women are underrepresented so what is being done to change it?

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Black Film Project and Film Studies Fellowships Established at Harvard University

Henry Louis Gates Jr., professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, will direct the newly established Black Film Project, an initiative aiming to support independent films focusing on Black history and culture.

Higher Education Grants or Gifts of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

Yale Library Acquires Digital Collection of Langston Hughes Papers

In a recent December upload, the Yale University Library added a collection of papers from Black poet Langston Hughes to the school's online archive. The collection contains correspondence between Hughes and other authors and civil rights activists of his time.

Academic Fields Where Blacks Earned Few or No Doctoral Degrees in 2022

In 2022, African Americans earned 1.2 percent of all mathematics and statistics doctorates, 1.2 percent of all doctorates in computer science, 1.7 percent of all doctorates in chemistry, and only 1.7 percent of all doctorates awarded in engineering disciplines.

Featured Jobs