Black artists including Idris Elba, Queen Latifah sign open letter, requesting Hollywood to invest in anti-racist content

The open letter said Hollywood “encourages the epidemic of police violence and culture of anti-Blackness.”

Reuters June 24, 2020 12:15:34 IST
Black artists including Idris Elba, Queen Latifah sign open letter, requesting Hollywood to invest in anti-racist content

More than 300 Black actors and filmmakers, including Idris Elba, Queen Latifah, and Billy Porter, on Tuesday, asked Hollywood to divest in the police and invest in anti-racist content.

An open letter addressed to “Our Allies in Hollywood” attacked what it called the industry’s “legacy of white supremacy” and said Hollywood “encourages the epidemic of police violence and culture of anti-Blackness.”

The letter, organised by the group Hollywood 4 Black Lives, was written in the midst of a cultural and political reckoning in the United States about systemic racism and mass protests about the killing of Black people by police.

Black artists including Idris Elba Queen Latifah sign open letter requesting Hollywood to invest in antiracist content

File image of Queen Latifah. Twitter

Specific demands included abolishing the employment of police officers on sets and putting pressure on Los Angeles city authorities to reduce budgets for policing.

It called on the movie and television industry to “end the intentional glorification of police brutality and corruption in our storytelling” and for studios to employ more Black people with executive, budget, and green lighting powers.

Long-running police TV shows Live PD and Cops were canceled earlier this month. Multiple celebrities, including talkshow hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, and 30 Rock creator Tina Fey have issued public apologies for wearing blackface or depicting white characters made up as Black people.

“It is time for Hollywood to acknowledge its role and take on the responsibility of repairing the damage and being a proactive part of the change,” Tuesday’s letter said.

According to a report on diversity in Hollywood published in February by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), people of colour took 27.6 percent of lead roles in top films for 2019, almost triple the percentage in 2011.

Heads of movie studios were 91 percent white and 82 percent male, according to the UCLA report.

Signatories to Tuesday’s letter included campaign groups Black Lives Matter and Colour of Change, as well as actors Viola Davis, Tiffany Haddish, Janelle Monae, Mahershala Ali, Laverne Cox, Cynthia Erivo, and Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.

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