The importance of representation in films

This year has been a success in the fight toward greater diversity on screen. “Black Panther,” “Wonder Woman” and “Call Me By Your Name” are only a few examples that show how Hollywood has successfully heeded the call for more representation in race, gender and sexuality.

But people were still upset. Why wasn’t there any gay representation in “Black Panther?” Where were the light-skinned African-Americans? Where was the racial diversity in “Wonder Woman?” I myself couldn’t help but feel upset at the lack of Asian representation in all of these films.
People are upset because they feel excluded. They don’t feel valued. Why don’t they deserve a chance to be on such a large platform? Is it because they don’t matter? The lack of representation on screen translates into a lack of value for different minorities. Diversity on screen is important because it reflects and embraces the diversity in society; it gives people from all backgrounds a voice and a chance to feel represented and valued. So should the entertainment industry strive for greater diversity? Absolutely. But are they obligated to do so? Not necessarily.

Directors, producers or other content creators use entertainment as a creative outlet to express their ideas. They have artistic freedom and can tell whatever stories they want. If the stories they want to tell do not have people of a certain race or gender or trait, then it is what it is. We cannot force content creators to include a certain number of minorities and doing so is ineffective in actually changing the attitudes in the industry.

The lack of diversity stems from a lack of thoughtfulness for different minorities. We don’t realize how important their unique life experiences are and the role they play in shaping our society. But greater diversity does not mean simply increasing the number of minorities in a film, but rather, giving greater opportunities to minorities in the industry and portraying them in a meaningful way.

Entertainment is a very powerful platform and gives underrepresented communities a voice. Its accessibility and prevalence in our society gives movies and television shows immense cultural significance and influence. Entertainment sheds light on different communities and creates a better understanding of one another to promote unity.

The entertainment industry should use the power that it has to give a voice to people from all walks of life. Keyword: should. Increasing diversity is certainly important, and the entertainment industry should seek to do so, but they do not have a responsibility to do so. But they do have a responsibility to use their platform to raise awareness of certain issues or give a voice to different communities, and that often lies in greater inclusion.

For me and everyone else waiting for our own “Black Panther” or “Wonder Woman,” it’s only a matter of when. The attitudes of the entertainment industry are gradually evolving, and we are seeing minorities take on more significant roles and receive greater recognition.
But if we want to see changes on screen, we have to change our attitudes first. We, as the audience, must not only advocate for representation of our own communities, but for everyone. Together, we must foster an atmosphere of solidarity that celebrates our unique experiences but does not divide us. If we want entertainment to embrace diversity, we must do so in society first.

By Natalie Jiang, Design lead
Photo source: