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When it comes to the evolution of culture, the world of entertainment and Hollywood are often at the forefront. This remains true when it comes to diversity and inclusion. In fact, a powerful paradigm shift is taking place. These aren’t just trendy buzzwords that executives share at networking events; they’ve become indispensable aspects of the global film industry.

These words now shape narratives, drive box office success and, most importantly, offer opportunities for emerging actors. But how does diversity impact movies? And why is diversity important in casting?

Let’s take a closer look at diversity in casting, what representation in Hollywood looks like and how you, as an actor, can maximize every opportunity that diversity in film industry settings affords you.

Benefits of Diverse Casting in Hollywood

Let’s be real. Until recently, Hollywood has not had the greatest track record when it comes to diversity and inclusion. As an Asian American working in the industry, I have seen my fair share of roles ideally suited for extremely talented, melanin-endowed actors go to less talented but more conventional options.

The good news is that this industry, once criticized for its lack of diversity in casting, is now experiencing a revolution. In addition to being the right thing to do, it’s also making Hollywood more money while also telling better stories, and the data proves this.

Audience Engagement

Audiences are more diverse than ever, and they want to see themselves represented in the content they pay to see. A major reason for this is that the global box office is now a primary driver of a film’s overall success.

The buying power of the international viewer is putting major pressure on studios that want to tap into their market. This diverse viewership desires and deserves stories and characters they can relate to.

Diverse casting enables a stronger global resonance where audiences can see their reflections in the stories told.

Box Office Impact

Money talks. In a sizable study by social scientists from UCLA, movies with casts that were 21% to 30% minorities had the highest median global box office receipts and the highest median return on investment.

Another report by McKinsey & Company estimates that Hollywood could gain $10 billion in annual revenue — about 7% more than the estimated baseline — by addressing racial disparities. The data speaks for itself, showing that diversity isn’t just ethically right; it’s financially smart.

Enhanced Narratives

How does diversity impact movies? One answer is in how it helps build the stories we tell. Diversity and representation in films contribute significantly to the richness and depth of the stories portrayed. Exploring cultures and exotic settings while featuring actors that are reflective of that narrative helps tell a better story.

It enables the exploration of different cultural contexts, authentic experiences and unique perspectives that make narratives more compelling. It creates a tapestry of storytelling that is vibrant, nuanced and engaging.

Pro Tip: Don’t get jaded. Should Hollywood have done more for diversity sooner? Of course. Is it unfortunate that they needed to see the benefits to their bottom line before taking meaningful action? No doubt. However, don’t let their motivations for change get in the way of capitalizing on the benefits it can now afford your career. Don’t get jaded; build your cache and your influence so that further down the road you can be an influence.

Achieving Personal Growth in a Diverse Acting Landscape

As an emerging actor, navigating this diverse landscape necessitates personal growth and development. There’s a right way to do this and a wrong way. Let’s look at some keys that have helped other actors navigate this evolving landscape.

Define Your Originality and Lean Into Authenticity

Diversity should never be painted in broad strokes. Just like there are nuances within different cultures, it’s the same when it comes to people. It’s important to think about diversity beyond the color of your skin, the nation you are from or what gender you identify as. These differentiations are a good starting point, but you have to dig deeper.

A good source to pull from is to look at your personal story and journey in acting and in life as a whole. See how your history differs from that of your friends or even other members of your family. Just like a good script, start adding layers to your understanding of yourself and what makes you unique or “unconventional.” This helps breed confidence and authenticity.
It seems that the more people talk about authenticity, the less authentic they become. This is especially true when it comes to acting. Whether it be out of desperation to land their next gig or to build their portfolio, plenty of actors fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all casting directors.

Avoid this at all costs. Speak, audition and act from a place of knowing yourself and what makes you unique.

Pro Tip: As a decision-maker for my fair share of casting calls, I will tell you that nothing turns off a casting team more than an auditioner that is trying to bend over backward to be what they think we are looking for. Worse, using diversity as a bargaining chip rather than as a point of tremendous value will almost guarantee you won’t be called back.

Continuous Learning

Diversity and inclusion are not a replacement for being the best actor for the role in the room. As films are increasingly global in nature, you’ll need to increase your tool bag with acting techniques that resonate with worldwide audiences and be solid on topics including cultural sensitivity. Your commitment to understanding and embracing different cultures will enable you to bring authenticity to diverse roles and demonstrate your dedication to the craft.

Building a Network and Portfolio for a Diverse Era

Since its inception, success in the film industry has hinged on the strength of your professional network and portfolio. The need for a strong network has only gotten stronger, with studios and executives scrambling to not miss the wave of diversity and inclusion.

Networking with Purpose

When building your network, aim to connect with a wide variety of industry professionals who value diversity and inclusion. These relationships can lead to opportunities that align with your dedication to a more inclusive Hollywood.

Pro Tip: Many studios now have executives specifically for the purpose of building diversity and inclusion within their business framework. Connect with them even if they don’t have a direct connection to casting. A good way to do research is to hop on LinkedIn and investigate the employee profiles of different studios you are interested in working with.

Role Exploration

Seek out diverse roles and constantly enhance your acting skills to match the industry’s needs. By showing versatility and a commitment to representing varied narratives you’re more likely to attract attention and opportunities.


Initiate and participate in projects that focus on diverse narratives. This active participation shows your commitment to representation in Hollywood and your willingness to be part of the change. You won’t believe how important a track record in projects like these will be moving forward.

Your Role in Being a Voice for Diversity and Inclusion

Actors, especially those emerging in the industry, play a vital role in advocating for diversity in casting and creating a more inclusive Hollywood. Just as the actors that came before you made your journey easier, we have a responsibility to do the same for the generations that come after us.

Amplifying Diverse Voices

Use your platforms to spotlight diverse stories and talents. As your career grows, so does your influence. Utilize it to advocate for change and highlight underrepresented voices.

Joint Advocacy

Collaborate with your peers to create a collective voice advocating for diversity and inclusion in the industry. Joint efforts amplify the call for change and can lead to more substantial and systemic transformation.

Final Thoughts

A massive push for diversity and inclusion in acting and Hollywood has been long overdue. However, it’s important to realize that we haven’t reached the top of the mountain. We’re just at base camp. The goal is to make this much more than a fleeting trend and transform it into a movement in the entertainment industry. Emerging actors play an indispensable role in this evolution.

As an aspiring actor, you have the unique opportunity to benefit from this season of inclusion, but it is also your responsibility to make the benefits of diversity and inclusion undeniable.

Through personal growth, proactive networking and collective advocacy, you can help define an inclusive future for Hollywood.

Ready to kick-start your acting career with Casting Frontier? Upgrade to Premium today to find your next role.

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Written by David Fang