I don’t know about you, but I live in a diverse Canada. My mother is Anglo-Indian. My daughter is Chinese. My sister-in-law and nieces are from Bangladesh. My daughter’s friends cover a wide range of ethnicities including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jamaica and China. Her boyfriend is Vietnamese and Aboriginal. I have friends who are Chinese, South Asian, Black, Filipino and yeah a whole pile of white ones. This is my world.
So it is important to me that my Canadian media is diverse – my television, my websites, my videogames. All of it to the extent that it makes sense for the story. It should reflect the audience and not some long ago version of the audience.
Which is why I get cranky (cranky enough that I Facebook posted my annoyance and then on the train to Prime Time stewed about it until I started to write this post) when I read articles about the tv industry in the mainstream media which seems to think that it’s an all-white, mostly male, industry.
Bright, creative young people will not join mainstream media unless they see opportunities for themselves and that means seeing people ‘like them’ in positions both in front of and behind the camera. They have other options – ask Lilly Singh or Jus Reign – and while I applaud them for pursuing their careers on YouTube I am concerned that not enough of them are trying to tell their stories in mainstream media. Will my daughter and her diverse classmates at Centennial’s Broadcasting and Film program have careers in film and television or will they too find more opportunities on YouTube? Yes, I can hear Jason Kee (Google Canada) asking me what’s wrong with that but we can’t have truly reflective audiences only on one platform.
Content that reflects the audience can only happen when both employers hire diverse talent and when diverse talent pursue those careers. So – how do we make that happen? That’s our challenge.