Netflix will invest $100m over the next five years in organisations with a proven record championing underrepresented communities in film and TV through its Netflix Fund for Creative Equity.
The fund will also be used to back in-house initiatives to identify, train and provide job placement globally for emerging talent.
The development comes as the streamer unveiled on Friday (February 26) findings from a study by renowned researcher Stacy Smith, the founder and director of USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, whose team analysed Netflix’s US commissioned films and series from 2018-19.
The report found that across 22 inclusion indicators, 19 showed an improvement year-on-year. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said there were “notable representation gaps” in film and series for Latinx, Middle Eastern / North African, American Indian / Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islanders.
The study looked at 126 live-action, scripted and US-based Netflix original films and 180 series, and found that 48.4% of films and 54.5% of series had girls or women as leads or co-leads.
In terms of the level of women in key creative positions across Netflix series compared to the broader industry, Netflix trailed in the producers and directors category (36.7% vs. 40%, and 27.7% vs. 28%, respectively), and was ahead of broader industry levels in terms of writers (36.4% vs. 30%) and creators (29.8% vs. 23.5%).
Women of colour directors on Netflix films accounted for 6.2% compared to 2.2% of top films industry-wide.
Looking at underrepresented key creatives in film, directors accounted for 16.9% to trail 20.5% industry-wide; writers made up 16.4% against 12.2% from the top-grossing films; and producers accounted for 13% compared to 15.1% industry-wide.
Turning to the percentage of leads and co-leads who were people of colour, 21.4% in film and 10.8% in series were black. Some 14.7% of the US population identifies as black/African America.
Latinx leads and co-leads accounted for 4% of film and 1.7% of series roles compared to a 12% share of the country’s population. Asians slightly over-indexed in film on 7.1% film and under-indexed in series on 1.7% series compared to 7% population share.
Leads and co-leads from Middle Eastern and North Africa over-indexed in film on 1.6% and under-indexed in series on less than 1% compared to 1.1%; American Indian/Alaskan Native under-indexed with 1.6% in film and zero in series versus 2.1% population representation; and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders were less than 1% across all metrics.
The report found that LBGTQ and characters with disabilities were rare in film and series, accounting for 4% and 1.1% of lead and co-lead roles, 4.3% and 6.1% of main cast, and 2% and 3.3% of speaking characters.
Netflix said it will work with Dr. Smith to release similar reports every two years through 2026, and will commission similar studios in other countries.
This article originally appeared on sister site ScreenDaily.