Pro Theater Workers In U.S. Still Disproportionately White And Male, Says Actors’ Equity Study
Jun 27, 2017
CreditMark Abramson for The New York Times
Women and minority actors and stage managers are getting fewer jobs and often wind up in lower-paying shows than white male theater artists, according to a new study by Actors’ Equity.
The study, released as the union is increasing its focus on diversity issues, is based on an examination of employment data for shows that opened between 2013 and 2015.
It comes amid a flurry of efforts to quantify a concern that has been expressed for years: Much of the entertainment industry does not reflect the demographic diversity of the United States.
Now Equity, which by dint of its status as a labor union has access to an unusual cache of data — the type of employment contracts signed and salaries paid to 51,000 actors and stage managers — is trying to spur further action by quantifying precisely what is happening for its members.
On Broadway and in national tours, where salaries are highest, women had 35 percent of the principal roles in plays and 42 percent of principal roles in musicals, and 37 percent of stage manager jobs. Even in chorus parts, women were underrepresented, at 44 percent.
Off Broadway, where salaries are lower, women are faring better: just 40 percent of the principal roles in plays, but 47 percent of the principal roles in musicals, 54 percent of the chorus roles, and 65 percent of the stage manager jobs.
For minorities, the numbers are lower: African-American performers, for example, got 11 percent of the principal roles in Broadway and touring plays, and 9 percent in musicals. Off Broadway, African-American performers did better: about 14 percent of the principal roles and 22 percent of chorus jobs. But Equity said that whites were generally hired with higher contractual salaries at all levels.