According to The Huffington Post, Abrams revealed his plans to require casting agents working with Bad Robot Productions to actively seek out women and minority actors for roles in his projects on Tuesday (Mar. 1), while speaking at the New York Times’ New Work Summit conference. The move, which was inspired by the #OscarsSoWhite movement, served as a “wakeup call” for the 49-year-old producer.
“The Oscar controversy was sort of a wakeup call to us,” Abrams said. “People were saying it’s so great you guys made Star Wars and you had a representative cast. But we realized it has to be a systemic approach.”
For those thinking Abrams’ announcement is limited to just finding a few token entertainers, guess again. The filmmaker is taking things even further with having the casting directors to send him lists of people that range from writers to producers to directors. The effort is targeted toward having folks who are proportionally representative to the U.S. population.
“Any list that we have for projects, it needs to be representative of this country,” Abrams stated.
Abrams’ desire to make real change comes after he received praise for his diverse casting in his mega-blockbuster film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The sci-fi fantasy action film is noted for successfully rebooting the “Star Wars” movie franchise as well as featuring Daisy Ridley as Rey, a young woman turned Jedi and black actor John Boyega as Finn, a Stormtrooper who ultimately rebels against the tyranny of the dark side.
Abrams’ intent to proactive and systematically search for eclectic workers follows a similar move initiated by director/producer Ryan Murphy, who recently launched a foundation dedicated to getting more work for women directors, the Post reports, adding that the move also brings to mind steps taken in the tech industry, which finds similar industries existing in companies that are dominated with noticeable roster of white male employee.
To combat the issue, companies such as Facebook, Pinterest, Intel and Xerox and Amazon have implemented the Rooney rule, which requires that least one woman and one underrepresented minority must be considered for every open position. Named after Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, the rule was used for hiring head coaches and general managers.
To see Abrams discuss diversity in Hollywood, check out the video below: