A recent study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative revealed that nearly 83 percent of professional critics are white and 79 percent are men. The study also found that only 21% of film reviewers are women, and 17% are people of color. And, of published film critics, a mere 4% of are women of color.
When the results of this research were revealed, several film festivals and content analysis websites announced that they will work to make their pool of contributors more inclusive.
To assist in increasing diversity among critics and entertainment reporters, the TIME’S UP movement has formed an initiative to address this effort for more representation.
Partnering with Annenberg, and with support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, TIME’S UP has launched CRITICAL, an opt-in database that allows media outlets, studios, and networks to locate and contact entertainment journalists and critics from underrepresented groups.
With the goal of bridging the gap between diverse audiences and critics who cover media, CRITICAL is also committed to increasing opportunities in journalism for people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and gender non-binary individuals.
The official launch of the site was held Friday, January 10th, with a gathering of nearly 80 publicists, executives, and journalists.
Among the attendees was actress and activist Geena Davis the founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, another organization that is working to bring issues within the entertainment industry to the forefront.
The interim head of TIME’S UP Entertainment, Ngoc Nguyen, told the group, “Time’s Up was a moment that has become a movement, and it is because of moments like this, where people are gathered with purpose.”
Dr. Stacy Smith, founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, said, “This is an overdue change that’s necessary to parallel the increasingly diverse stories being told on screen.”
She added that the creation of the database “really reveals the power of what happens when women gather and make decisions about how to change the landscape of humanity,”
At the event, TIME’S UP staffers gave demonstrations of CRITICAL, showing individuals how to use the two separate portals within the site – one for journalists and the other for publicists and assigning editors. Writers can create a profile that includes a range of information and links to published work, while publicists and editors can use the database to locate journalists.
At the time of the launch, the TIME”S UP team estimates that there are approximately 400 active listings in the database.
The event also served as a networking event, complete with color coded name tags so participants could easily identify an attendee’s classification within the industry.
The hope, says Nguyen, is that the launch event in the short-term and the database in the long term will create strong connections among participants that will result in increased access to opportunities for underrepresented groups.
“Hopefully, this is just the first of many changes within the entertainment industry that will help to shift the numbers in a positive way, and we’ll soon start seeing the same diversity among critics that we see within the general population.”
For more information about TIME”S UP CRITICAL, please visit this site.