maraHi all. This week I am visiting Los Angeles on business. I’ve always loved coming out here. Not to see the movies stars or celebrities (well I wouldn’t mind running into The Rock- Duane Johnson). But because I’ve always had great business relationships out here. And contrary to what some folks may believe, the entertainment industry is a huge business. In fact, I want to specifically address the entertainment industry, in particular, women of color and their (lack of) influence and voice.

It’s no secret that over the last few years, black television has all but disappeared from main stream media. Sure we have BET and TV One, but I will refrain from showing my disdain for the programming made available.  We had one Latino show for a while, the George Lopez Show, which is also gone. There is a noticeable void in ethnic programming. One example of this is the recent fight that writer/producer/show creator Mara Brock Akil was embroiled in with the CW Network in keeping her second show with them from being canceled…The Game.  She has her show Girlfriends abruptly canceled on her last year with no closure to the audience and fans. Now the Powers that be have decided, even in light of the massive online fan movement to save the show, to cancel it. While admittedly I hardly watched the show, I understand the significance of this slap in the face. Mara has had a stellar track record with some pretty prominent show. Someone with her track record deserves more respect than she’s been given.

As I look around Hollywood, I can see a noticeable absence of recognized Women of Color in the business. Sure we see people like Jada Pinkett Smith, Shonda Rhimes, Tracey Edmonds, Tyra Banks, Oprah Winfrey and Christina Norman. But they are the “known” power brok(h)ers in Hollywood. For each of them, there are at least 20 more unknowns or “unsungs”. That really bothers me. For years, I’ve been reading about the women of Hollywood fighting the good fight to get more sisters in front of AND behind the cameras.  I haven’t felt it as much as I do right now.  As I drive through the city, I can’t help but notice the lack of color on the billboards.  I’m not a big tv watcher but the lack of diversity on the small screen isn’t lost on me.  In fact it frustrates the hell out of me. Networks can buy into bullshit like Flavor of Love, Charm School, New York does whatever and so on. You have Oxygen showing crap like Bad Girls. When you have strong positive women like the ladies I mentioned above, why isn’t their images portrayed? Why can’t we show positive women of color? True we have Jada on her new show Hawthorne, but it’s on cable, not any of the major networks. I pray that the show lasts because I think it has promise after watching the first episode. She is not only the lead BLACK female lead, but also the Executive Producer. We have Grey’s Anatomy & Private Practice, but we have two Black women and one Asian woman, and one Hispanic woman between the two shows. I’m grateful for at last that much diversity. I have a feeling that’s credited to Shonda. But can we have some more please?

I am advocating for more diversity in Hollywood.  Black Women, Hispanic Women, Asian Women, Middle Eastern Women. We are all beautiful women of color. Hollywood has to do better or at least start promoting and talking about more of them. We have to do better in holding the right people accountable. Mara had the right idea in taking the fight to the web. It is such a great, powerful tool. But here’s the thing. We need to get to our own young ladies and demand that they expect better and do better for themselves. Fighting over Flavor Flav (regardless of ethnicity), shaking their ass in videos like video hoes, and either allowing themselves to be disrespected or disrespecting themselves is not acceptable. If we had more positive programming featuring, showcasing and celebrating women of color, there would be a lot less of them making asses of themselves on tv.  TV shows like Candy Girls does not represent women of color in the right light. Our young ladies have to know and understand that we can be successful in entertainment without shaking our asses or fighting over an idiot on tv.

So Mara, what can I do to help further your cause?  This is my open letter to you.  How can I make this “our” cause?  What can I do to help? To the general public, how can we get more Latinas in front of the camera and in power positions outside of Univision? How can we get more Asian women and Middle Eastern Women their recognition as well? How do we get more diversity in front of and behind the camera?  Help me please, because I’m at a loss. I’m a Recruiter, so I can find the top talent. But how can we get the “brass” to take notice and the media to start reporting on them?

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham