CLARKE CO-LEADS LEGISLATION TO DESIGNATE SEPTEMBER AS NATIONAL LEADING ENTERTAINMENT AND ARTS THROUGH DIVERSITY MONTH
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 25, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) joined with Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Judy Chu (CA-27) and Grace Meng (NY-06) to introduce a resolution to designate September as “National Leading Entertainment and Arts through Diversity Month” or “National LEAD Month,” to underscore the immediate need for more representation of women and underrepresented communities in entertainment and recognizes the importance of allyship.
The members partnered with STARZ, a leading global streaming platform, in conjunction with the organization’s #TakeTheLead initiative. Too often, marginalized communities and their distinctive perspectives and lived experiences are erased from the media spaces crucial for representation, effectively depriving them of the power of representation. This resolution serves to enable underrepresented communities to take the lead within the entertainment industry by shining a light on the disparities depriving them of opportunities in multimedia spaces.
“While strides have been made to increase the visibility of women and communities of color in the entertainment industry, specifically – film, streaming, and TV, it is becoming increasingly evident that there is still much work to be done,” said Congresswoman Clarke, co-chair of the House Multicultural Media Caucus. “People cannot dream what they cannot see, and a lack of representation can have grave impacts on our young women and future. I am proud to be a LEAD sponsor of this resolution to help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, both on and off the screen. I look forward to fostering real dialogue and a national discourse in September on what needs to be done to ensure increased representation for our women and communities of color.”
“As the producers of the content and imagery that our nation experiences, entertainment companies have a moral obligation to ensure that their product reflects our society. This bill calls on these companies to make diversity and inclusion a priority, encourages stakeholders from across all industries to support and further these efforts and promotes the importance of representation and telling diverse stories. I am proud to join Reps. Clarke, Chu, Meng and Barragán in cosponsoring this important resolution,” said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
“Representation matters. For far too long, Latino & other communities of color have been marginalized and left out on screen and behind the camera. We need to fight for opportunities to increase representation at all levels of the entertainment industry,” said Congresswoman Barragán. “I am proud to join Representatives Clarke, Meng and Chu to establish September as National Leading Entertainment and Arts through Diversity Month, and to support solutions to address systemic barriers and diversify our entertainment industry.”
“In the entertainment industry, women and people of color only make up between 20 and 26 percent of all film directors and screenwriters. Additionally, white directors, when compared with directors of color, are more than two times as likely to head a film with a budget of or exceeding $100 million. This lack of representation too often erases diverse perspectives and lived experiences from our screens – and, as we continue to combat the alarming rise in hate and bigotry nationwide, ensuring diversity in the media becomes even more critical. This is why I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this resolution, so we take another step forward in recognizing and empowering underrepresented communities across all spectrums of the entertainment industry,” said Congresswoman Chu.
“As First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am committed to raising awareness around the continuous contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and recognizing equity and parity for our communities across industries,” said Congresswoman Meng. “That’s why I am happy to join my colleagues on this bill. The LEAD bill is key to our efforts as we call on the nation to increase representation for underrepresented communities – including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – in film and TV and provide more opportunities for AAPI creators to break into and be successful in the entertainment industry.”
“At STARZ, we remain deeply committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion with premium content by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences. We believe in giving creators a platform to use their own voices to tell their own stories to choose how the world sees them,” said STARZ President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch. “The National LEAD Month recognizes the importance of improving representation in front and behind the screen, and throughout organizations, in hopes to inspire others to do the same. We are proud to work alongside Representatives Clarke, Meng, Barragán and Jeffries to amplify this issue in Washington, and to help drive conversations that will keep advancing us culturally.”
The full text of the resolution is available here.
Yvette D. Clarke has been in Congress since 2007. She represents New York’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes Central and South Brooklyn. Clarke is a Senior Member of both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Committee on Homeland Security, where she serves as Chair of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation Subcommittee.