Diversity Aboveground: 2015 Recap

Jan 14, 2016


2015 was an exciting time for diversity in entertainment. Now’s the time to celebrate the triumphs that happened this year.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

“It’s a phenomenon in the [film] industry that we call ‘stupid people’. There is genuine, recalcitrant, intractable sexism, and old-fashioned quiet misogyny that goes on. You hear ‘Oh, [female superheroes] don’t work because of these two bad ones that were made eight years ago’, there’s always an excuse.”

-Joss Whedon

“I believe that the international motion picture audience is racist – in general pictures with an African American lead don’t play well overseas.”

-Amy Pascal, former head of Sony Pictures

Star Wars: The Force Awakens stars a female, a Latino male and a Black male.

Finn and Rey

The film has made almost 1.76 BILLION dollars since December 16, just four weeks ago.

Can we officially cut anyone off who tries to say films with minority leads don’t work?


Sanjay’s Super Team

Sanjay Patel with his producer, Nicole Paradis Grindle.

Sanjay Patel with his producer, Nicole Paradis Grindle.

While the animated short was paired with the flop, The Good Dinosaur, Sanjay’s Super Team is still important for being about a young Hindu boy based off Sanjay Patel. It was created, written and directed by Patel who explained about the short film:

“We were trying to communicate this rich subject matter of Indian philosophy and culture — and were trying to communicate so much of that in six minutes without any dialog. A challenge was not to make it too esoteric where we lose our American audiences, and not water it down to where people of the Indian-American community would feel that it was dumbed down. It was finding that sweet spot.”

Jessica Jones

Marvel released their first television series with a solo female title character. It was a success for Netflix and Marvel, averaging 4.8 million viewers per episode and that’s not including those watching illegally because they weren’t subscribed to the pay service. Between this and Supergirl being the most watched series of the new fall television season, there is no reason to say females can’t be the lead of any television series and bring in the viewers.


Lin-Manuel Miranda

The biggest hit on Broadway this year was Hamilton; a hip hop retelling of the United States’ Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Not only does it incorporate rap and modern dance, but Hamilton is played by Lin-Manuel Miranda who also created the musical; book, lyrics and music. Miranda’s music can also be heard in Maz Kanata’s bar in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Fresh Romance

Yay, lesbians!

From Fresh Romance #1

Comics proved this year that while it’s nice to have Kamala Khan join the Avengers or have Batwing be Luke Fox, it’s not necessary in a post-Kickstarter world. Readers can directly contribute to a creator to get the comic they want to read and that creator wants to make. Fresh Romance is just one example of this. After raising $53,311 on Kickstarter, Janelle Asselin put together a wonderful comic book series containing romances of all ages, shapes, colors and historical time periods. Patreon enables that same relationship for mixed media and animation.

Female Films!

Melanie Laurent's film, Breathe

Melanie Laurent’s film, Breathe

Nearly half of the top twenty films for North America this year revolved around female protagonists, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Elizabeth Banks directed her first feature film, Pitch Perfect 2. Angelina Jolie wrote and starred in By the Sea along with Melanie Laurent who directed and wrote her own second feature film this year, Breathe. Then, there was also Mad Max: Fury Road that was more about a group of women seeking their independence from patriarchy than the title character.

Books that Don’t Specify Race

2015 was the year readers found out that characters that have been traditionally cast as Caucasian don’t have to be Caucasian. First, there was Daniel Handler, on behalf on his pseudonym Lemony Snicket, explained that the Baudelaires could be any ethnicity and the cast for the upcoming Netflix series would come from a worldwide search.

It was also announced that there would be a play taking place around the same time as the epilogue from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’ll focus on Harry and his youngest son. The play will have a whole new cast of Jamie Parker, Noma Dumezweni and Paul Thornley playing the original trio. Dumezweni was born in Swaziland and there were complaints about her skin color.


You can’t argue with Hermione’s creator.

America and Holland’s Next Top Model

Nyle DiMarco

Last month, the final season of America’s Next Top Model was won by Nyle DiMarco.

“My goal is to change the world’s perspective on deafness—that it’s not actually a disability, but a culture in and of itself,” DiMarco told Out magazine. The model has been deaf since birth. He communicated on the show through sign language and an interpreter.

He has also described his dating preferences as “fluid”.

Prior to that, in October, Holland proclaimed Loiza Lamers as its winner. She is the first Transgender contestant to win any of the various ….Next Top Model series.

Lamers said in a local interview,

“I’m really at a point where I can say I am very proud to be transgender.”


Will Oscar support more minorities this year?

Especially after the successes seen at the Golden Globes, particularly the Latino community?

Next column will focus on the wonderful new projects to come in 2016!


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