CBS reality shows to include at least 50 percent people of color
CBS on Monday announced a new diversity pledge to cast at least half of the contestants on their reality shows with people of color.
The decision, reported by Entertainment Weekly, comes after the network and producers met with two groups of former Black contestants who felt they were subjected to implicit bias both during and after their time on series including “Survivor,” one of the network’s mainstays.
One group called the Black Survivors Alliance, formed by former “Survivor” contestants Sean Rector and Jolanda Jones, met with executive producer and host Jeff Probst along with CBS executives to discuss ways to make the show more inclusive.
Rector, whom Entertainment Weekly describes as being one of the most outspoken and entertaining “Survivor” contestants, said that his criticism of the show was the reason why he has never been invited to participate in any of the subsequent “All-Stars” seasons.
Jones reportedly said she felt the way the show was edited when Black contestants were on screen showed “systematic/systemic racism, implicit bias, and microaggressions.”
“Many people do not realize the impacts that [diversity] has on the game,” Julia Carter, a Black contestant on “Survivor” season 38, told Entertainment Weekly. “When you truly diversify the cast (and I don’t mean just a sprinkle of each race in every season), you even the playing field and allow every castaway a real opportunity to connect with more individuals, find allies, and win the game. Seasons like Cook Islands and Fiji, in which there was racially equal casting, should be the norm, not the exceptions.”
The diversity pledge will also apply to shows including “Big Brother” and “Love Island.”
Entertainment Weekly reports that CBS has fallen under scrutiny for a lack of diversity in its scripted shows as well.
In 2017, the network’s fall lineup of new shows consisted of six series, all with male leads, five of whom were white. CBS defended its lineup at the time but did say it would allocate a minimum of 25 percent of its future script development budget to projects created by people of color. The network also set a goal to have at least 40 percent of its writers rooms staffed with nonwhite writers.