Annenberg Inclusion Initiative
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative is the leading think tank in the world studying diversity and inclusion in entertainment through original research and sponsored projects. Beyond research, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative develops targeted, research-based solutions to tackle inequality. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative works in three major areas:
RESEARCH: Uses data-driven and theory-based research to offer insight and evidence to industries on where diversity is needed and how to achieve it
ADVOCACY: Exists to foster inclusion and give a voice to disenfranchised or marginalized groups
ACTION: Offers simple actions for complex solutions to facilitate social change at the student, industry, and societal level
For more information and updates on the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, visit us: You can also reach out to us at email@example.com.
Introducing The Inclusion List
Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative in collaboration with the Adobe Foundation have created The Inclusion List. The Inclusion List is a data-driven ranking to show who in the entertainment industry has taken inclusion seriously and been a driving force for industry change.
The Inclusion List ranks the most inclusive content across series and film using on screen and behind the camera indicators and the people responsible for creating the most inclusive content. The newest Inclusion List ranks the 100 most inclusive broadcast and cable and streaming series and the top 20 executive producers. All the details are available at http://inclusionlist.org/series.
With this tool, we seek to inform, challenge, and congratulate the entertainment industry and point out where there is room to grow.
The Inclusion Rider: Legal language for ending Hollywood’s epidemic of invisibility
Across the 100 top-grossing films of 2016, 47 did not feature a single Black woman or girl speaking on screen, 66 movies were devoid of Asian female characters, and a full 72 films erased Latinas. Very few females from the LGBT community, native and indigenous females, Middle Eastern females, or female characters with disabilities are seen in our cinematic stories. More generally, the percentage of females on screen in film has not moved in decades. It’s time to change these statistics. The inclusion rider was created to do just that. The inclusion rider is an addendum to an actor/content creator’s contract that stipulates that stories and storytellers should look like the world we actually live in — not a small fraction of the talent pool. It does this while also protecting story sovereignty.
The purpose of the inclusion rider is to counter bias in interviewing/auditioning and hiring/casting in specific employment positions in the entertainment industry. The rider is a template and living document, not something to be cut and pasted into a contract. The details of its implementation are crucial to its success. The rider is a flexible and adaptable framework that actors/content creators should consider together with counsel prior to signing on to their next project. The inclusion rider does not provide for quotas. It simply stipulates consideration of the deep bench of talented professionals from historically underrepresented groups and strongly encourages hiring and casting of qualified individuals from under-represented backgrounds. We believe that this language is a necessary first step to eradicate inequality experienced for years on screen and behind the camera.
In the spirit of inclusion, Stacy L. Smith of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Kalpana Kotagal of Cohen Milstein, and Fanshen Cox of Pearl Street Films are sharing the template and hope it will be an important tool in achieving change. Read more about the origin of the “inclusion rider” and use the link below to see the original language.
The annual report from Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Inclusion in the Director’s Chair, was released on January 2, 2024.
The study examines the gender and race/ethnicity of directors across 1,700 popular films from 2007 to 2023, revealing an increase in the number and percentage of women and underrepresented directors hired to helm top-performing movies. The report also looks specifically at women of color working as directors.Read the Report
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released its first-ever study on Muslim representation, sponsored by the Ford Foundation and Pillars Fund.
The report investigated the prevalence and portrayals of Muslim characters across 200 top-grossing films released between 2017 and 2019 and 200 top international series from 2018-19. The research showed that Muslim characters were erased in popular movies, that portrayals lack intersectional inclusion, and that Muslims still face stereotyping on screen.Read the Report
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative examined the gender, race/ethnicity and age of characters in popular movies from 2007 to 2022. The results demonstrate where there has been change and where progress is still needed.
Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released the findings from their newest study exploring mental health representation in storytelling. In partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the report is the third in the series by the Initiative and examines 100 top-grossing films from 2022. An over time comparison of the results from prior years — 2016 and 2019 — provides a rich understanding of the current landscape of mental health in entertainment. The prevalence of common mental health conditions depicted, such as anxiety/PTSD, addiction, mood disorders, suicide were analyzed, as well as the demographic breakdown of characters with mental health conditions. Additionally, the report covers how these characters and conditions are portrayed, including ways in which they may be positively or negatively presented in popular films.
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released a new study on the participation of women in the animation industry, in partnership with Women in Animation. The study evaluated females on screen, behind the camera above and below the line across film and TV, and in the executive ranks at major animation companies.
In addition, a qualitative investigation examined the reasons that limit women's access and opportunity in the industry. The study results were unveiled at the third annual Women in Animation World Summit, held in partnership with Les Femmes s’Animant (LFA), at the Annecy International Animation Festival and Mifa 2019.
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has released a new report in partnership with TIME’S UP Entertainment, titled “Critic’s Choice 2.” It is the second from Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to investigate inclusion among film reviewers and examines access and opportunity for film critics. The report uses reviews of the 300 top-grossing films from 2015-2017 posted on the site Rotten Tomatoes to assess gender and race/ethnicity of critics, finding that reviewers are overwhelmingly white and male.
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s annual report examines the gender and race/ethnicity of artists, songwriters, and producers across the year’s top songs, according to the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Charts. The study also looks at Grammy nominations in key categories. The latest report covers 2012 to 2023.
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative conducted this study in partnership with the Media Neuroscience Lab (MNL), University of California, Santa Barbara, and the study was sponsored by Snap. The analysis is a multi-year, first-of-its-kind representation audit of English-language partnered content on Snapchat (content from traditional and digital native media partners). The team used a combination of computational methods and human assessors to understand how well gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, and disability were represented in Snapchat content.
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative partnered with Netflix to evaluate film and series content on screen and behind the scenes from 2018 to 2021. The study examines gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and characters with disabilities in Netflix content.
Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative examined 126 top-grossing films from 2021 and 2022 and found no significant relationship between the identity of the protagonist and box office success. What does matter? How strongly a film receives support in terms of budget, marketing costs, and distribution.
Stacy L. Smith, PhD
Stacy L. Smith is the Founder and Director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California where she is also an Associate Professor. Smith’s work examines gender, race, LGBT status, disability, and age on screen and gender and race/ethnicity behind the camera in cinematic content as well as barriers and opportunities facing women and people of color in the entertainment industry. She also conducts economic analyses related to diversity and the financial performance of films. Smith is a world leader, with speaking engagements ranging from the TED Women stage to the United Nations. Her research sets the global standard for data on employment diversity in entertainment, and she is a trusted source to the entertainment industry. Smith’s work is cited widely by both corporate and educational audiences. Smith has written more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and reports on content patterns and effects of the media. In 2015, LA Weekly named Smith the #1 Most Influential Person in Los Angeles. You can read more about Smith’s work and accomplishments in her full bio.
Research and advocacy at this level involves multiple stakeholders. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative is grateful to our existing sponsors and partners, including The David & Lura Lovell Foundation, Mari and Manuel Alba, Bonnie Arnold, Ann Erickson and Richard Pellett, Beth Friedman, Suzanne Lerner, Valley Fund for the Advancement of Women and Girls at the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona and Ann Lovell, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado and Barbara Bridges. Support is also provided by The Tides Foundation on the recommendation of Ms. Julie Parker Benello. Interested in supporting the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative? Please contact us for more information or click here to donate.
Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Media Mentions
Time's Up Turns a Page: Brie Larson, Tessa Thompson and USC's Stacy Smith on a "Very Simple Formula to Create Change"
Inclusion strategies have sprung up aplenty, but how to really move the needle?
The newest study from AII examines inequality in the film industry
Women, Hispanics and people with disabilities are among the most underrepresented groups
AII reports that just 8.1 percent of Hollywood’s helmers over the past decade were black or Asian
On many fronts, women are fighting for better opportunity in Hollywood