According to a new study, Hollywood's diversity initiatives need to extend to age.
Humana sponsored a University of Southern California study of senior characters represented in 25 Academy Award nominated films from 2014 - 2016.
In the movies studied, only 11.8% of the 1,256 speaking characters were 60 years of age or older -- that's nearly 7% less than the population of seniors in living in the United States, according to the U.S. Census estimates.
"The outcry over the lack of diversity at Hollywood's premier award show has failed to recognize the value of senior voices on screen," Stacy L. Smith, director of the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at USC Annenberg, said in a press release. "While 2016 best picture nominated films are more diverse when it comes to gender and some racial and ethnic groups, ageism is still an accepted form of exclusion in cinematic storytelling."
Of the 148 senior characters featured in the films studied, 77.7% were men and 22.3% were women.
And the number of senior female characters in Oscar nominated films appears to be declining -- there were 13 senior female characters in the 2014 films, 16 in 2015, and only four in 2016.
In terms of race/ethnicity, only 10% of senior characters were people of color.
Aside from a call for inclusion, Hollywood may be missing an opportunity at the box office.
The under representation of seniors as characters comes at a time when many in that age range are heading to the theater.
According to the Motion Picture Association of America, in 2015 those 60 years and older made up 15% of frequent moviegoers.
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