CBS PRESS TOUR Summer ’16. CBS Tackles Answering Its Lack of Diversity In Lead Roles. Again.

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No one can deny that CBS has a full roster of multicultural talent … in its supporting roles. But it seems to have a problem casting its leads with actors of color.

It became a sensitive subject at the CBS executive session with Glenn Gellar, president of CBS entertainment, during CBS Press Tour. When asked why there is, and continues to be, a lack of stars of color in CBS’ lead roles, Gellar had a lot to say. Acknowledging the lack of leads, he stated, ” We need to do better and we know it. That’s really it. We need to do better.”

Gellar then spoke passionately about the addition of new CBS players on existing shows. Out of 16 cast, 11 are of diverse backgrounds. But had a harder time addressing the issue of people of color working behind the scenes. Of the ten new showrunners joining the network this season, all are white. “Sometimes our showrunners are diverse. Sometimes they’re not diverse,” Gellar replied. “These are the shows we picked up. We pick up the best shows from the pilots we make.”

Asked how FOX/FX make a conscious effort to hire people of color behind the scenes, as have other networks, with specific action, Gellar did speak of outlets for people of color with aspirations to enter and thrive in the field. “We continue to put additional resources and financial support into our CBS Diversity Institute, and that covers many different parts of diversity for us… our [casting] showcase … it includes our writers program. It includes our directors program. And even the and DGA have kind of held them up as premier programs that really make effective and real change.” CBS also has a program, CBS On Tour where they visit colleges to find new talent of all colors.

So aspiring writers, directors, showrunners, help CBS acheive their goal to be more diverse. Take advantage of their programs and opportunities so the stories they share look more like America, in front of AND behind the camera.

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