New Study Finds 64% of ‘Diverse’ TV Writers Face Discrimination

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm May 13, 2020

The Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity (TTIE) published its second annual “Behind-the-Scenes: The State of Inclusion and Equity in TV Writing” report and found that while Hollywood has made some gains around inclusion, 64 percent of writers from diverse backgrounds (i.e., not white, cis, male, able-bodied, heterosexual) report that they have experienced bias, discrimination or harassment from writing staff. 

TTIE, which is made up of creatives from all levels in TV writing rooms, tracks diversity in representation for women, people of color, people who have disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Building off of last year’s report, which looked at the challenges faced to enter or advance a career in TV writing, this report dug deeper and highlighted three major issues shared from its 282 respondents: Changes in diversity are taking place primarily at lower levels, barriers to promotion continue, and harassment or discrimination persists.

Even with successful shows like “Pose” and “Queen Sugar,” writers who don’t fit the majority mold say that they are still struggling. Below are some highlights from the report: 


  • 82 percent of writers of color have had to repeat a title at least once. 
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  • 65 percent of people of color reported being the only POC on staff.
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  • 58 percent of diverse writers say their agents pitch them to shows only in ways that highlight their “otherness” and that they experience pushback when pitching non-stereotypical diverse characters or storylines. 
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  • 42 percent of diverse writers entered the industry as a “Diversity Slot” hire.
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  • 35 percent of diverse working TV writers do not have an agent.
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  • 15 percent said they had to accept a demotion in title in order to become staff. 
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In addition, TTIE published an open letter on May 5 where they called for Hollywood to do more. “As members of the television writing/producing community, we recognize diverse writers’ contributions are valuable not only when a show’s content calls for a specific POV, but across the board,” wrote TTIE. “A variety of perspectives generates more authentic stories and, often, higher profits. The television community—especially networks, studios, production companies, representatives, showrunners, upper-levels, non-writing producers, guilds/unions—must marshal resources and work together to create an inclusive, equitable, and safe work environment.”

To view the full report, visit Women in Film’s site.