ICYMI: Why California’s API Caucus Made Diversity in Filmmaking the Law

By Sameer Rao Aug 03, 2018

California State Assembly member Rob Bonta (D-18th District) had a simple explanation for why he and his colleagues in the state’s Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus pushed Hollywood diversity protocol into the state’s new budget.

"We were just sick of the whitewashing,” he told The Hollywood Reporter (THR) on Wednesday (August 1). "We don’t need another ‘Ghost in the Shell’ or ‘Aloha.’”

Bonta, the state legislature’s first Filipino-American member, chairs the caucus. He stood with its 11 other members, as well as Black and Latinx legislators, to advance State Bill 871 during assembly and State Senate budget negotiations. The legislation requires that any entity applying for the California Film Commission’s tax credit program provides a written anti-harassment policy, race and gender demographic information and details of its internal diversity programs.

The lack of such programs doesn’t immediately disqualify applicants, but as bill co-architect Ian Calderon (D-57th District) told The Associated Press in June, an application that doesn’t mention diversity initiatives “doesn’t look very good.” Governor Jerry Brown ultimately signed the bill into law in late June.

“We want to see our stories being told by API writers, directors, producers and actors, and this [reporting provision] isn’t a crazy or overly aggressive ask,” Bonta said. “This is a fair ask, exceedingly achievable and doable.”