We all know that landing a career in the entertainment industry is far from easy, and the industry is hardly known for its diversity. Up and coming film and arts students face many hurdles, which can often keep aspiring talent on the outskirts of the industry.
Careers in the entertainment industry can be even harder for minority demographics. According to a report released last year by the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative (MDSC), of the top 100 movies of 2016, just 31% included a female character with a speaking role. Only 13.6% of speaking roles in films went to a black actor, 5.7% to an Asian actor and only 3.1% of Hispanic actors were lucky enough to land a speaking role in 2016’s blockbusters. 2.7% of characters with a speaking role were depicted as having some sort of physical or mental disability, and only 1.1% were depicted as being gay, lesbian or bi-sexual. There were zero speaking roles for transgender characters amongst all 100 films.
This isn’t because there are no minority or LGBTQ actors looking for roles. It’s because the traditional talent scouting process leaves a lot to be desired, disproportionately favoring managed talent. That’s those entertainers lucky enough to have landed a deal with an agency or agent. It’s a problem occurring on a global scale and is particularly important to drama, music and acting graduates.
For years getting into the entertainment industry has been all about who you know, not what you know. But a subtle shift has been taking over. Thanks to new technology and platforms like YouTube, SoundCloud and Special Guest App, some lucky performers have been able to break out into the mainstream.
YouTube, founded by Jawed Karim and Chad Hurley, has given everyday people the chance for a career in entertainment. Special Guest App, the brainchild of Hollywood actor and comedian, Damon Wayans Jr. and successful entrepreneur, Kristopher Jones also democratizes the process of finding talent for live entertainment. “I grew up in LA, and have been in and around entertainment my entire life. My experience with how hard it is to get discovered in Hollywood was the basis for Special Guest App.” The platform offers a way for people to hire live entertainment, from kid’s entertainers, circus performers and dancers, to actors, comedians, singers and DJs.
Likewise, Instagram now also provides a platform for aspiring arts students, including photographers, videographers, illustrators and painters. The platform exemplifies democratization of talent scouting for artistic talent. Future arts students chasing a career in the industry must make use of new technologies and platforms, rather than relying on traditional means.