Hollywood Walk of Fame is More Like Great White Way: Minority Stars Hard to Find
It looks like L.A's world-famous Walk of Fame might as well be called the Great White Way.
That's because minorities are sorely underrepresented when it comes to stars on the Hollywood sidewalks. CNN recently broke down the numbers, and they're pretty sad.
Lets start with Latinos, who comprise about 50 percent of L.A. County's population.
On the Walk of Fame?
-3.4 percent of the stars.
Asians and Asian Americans?
To be fair, the stars are bought and maintained by the stars themselves or their fan clubs, so minority celebrities have no one to blame but themselves. But ...
... Inez Gonzalez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, tells the Weekly those percentages pretty much reflect minority representation in major Hollywood roles anyway.
The group has been working with the television industry to increase representation and even has a memorandum of understanding with the big TV producers to review their numbers annually. Gonzalez:
It's not surprising Hollywood still needs to wake up to our demographic. It probably reflects the opportunities Latinos get for starring roles. You see Latinos, but not in starring roles.
The group's annual report card on Latino representation in TV is coming next month, and Gonzalez indicated it won't be pretty.
With the new Census numbers, they need to understand this is just not about doing the right thing -- it's about doing the business thing.
[Update]: Guy Aoki, founding president of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, told the Weekly that the television networks and movie studios do have a hand in deciding who gets a star because the Walk of Fame ceremonies are often marketing events that parallel new seasons and picture openings:
So many times it's coinciding with the weekend their movie is opening. The fact that you have Asians and Latinos and black people underrepresented over the years is somewhat of a reflection of the industry not developing enough minority stars they can push.
He notes that it costs $30,000 (with the approval of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which does turn people down), to even seed a star on the Walk of Fame. So it helps if a studio's marketing budget is going to handle the costs.
nancy-kwan.com Nancy Kwan in a circa-1960s publicity photo.
So is 0.4 percent reflective of Asian Americans in movies and on TV?
Aoki says that "since 1999 only two shows have starred an Asian American" (and by starred he means taking the lead -- as in Cashmere Mafia with Lucy Liu at the top of the marquee and Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann, which had Carrie Ann Inaba sharing the top honors).
Sad, Aoki says. For that reason, many folks outside of the United States don't see Asian Americans as American.
It's a reflection of what we export. You don't get a sense that we are as American as anyone else.