Who we see on our screens shapes how we see and understand our society and our identity. So what does it say when we don’t see our face reflected on screen?

Reality TV. A genre that, by its very name, suggests it to some extent reflects our reality. Though we know it isn’t real, we still want it to mirror our lives. When it comes to assembling reality TV casts reflective of our multicultural Australia, we are at a crossroads. Shows like Masterchef and The Voice are paving the way for Reality TV by showing a more accurate representation of Australia’s cultural diversity. However, though Australia seems happy to watch People of Colour (POC) sing and cook their way into our hearts and homes, we are not ready to see them dating or falling in love. Year after year, The Bachelor and Love Island have been criticised for not being able to tell their contestants apart.

Now a question lies in whether Australia’s people (one in four of whom come from a culturally diverse background) are not ready for diversity or is it the networks and producers who aren’t?

It’s no longer enough to cast the ‘token guy/girl’ of that reality show and then wipe our hands clean of diversity, having ticked the box with one cast member. It’s time to break down the systemic racism that plagues our country and has extended itself into our homes through our televisions.

Change from the top down

In an interview with the Huffington Post, a former reality producer identified that lack of diversity across heads of studio, heads of programming, and heads of network is why there isn’t more talent diversity.

A report by Media Diversity Australia (MDA), ‘Who Gets to Tell Australian Stories’, examined the presence of cultural diversity across our free-to-air news and current affairs programming. States the boards of the TV networks in Australia are overwhelmingly Anglo-Celtic, and that “As of July 2020, every national news director in Australia is from an Anglo-Celtic background, and is also male.”

Diversity in the top levels needs to be addressed if we are to see any real change on our screens. MDA director and co-founder Antoinette Lattouf said:

 “Other than SBS all [network] boards lack representative cultural diversity and this no doubt has a trickle-down effect. At a news director level, both national and at state levels, the leadership is even more culturally monolithic.”

Empowering casting directors to tackle diversity with Diversity Technology

Addressing these top-level issues will take time and requires prioritising D&I strategies at the top levels of networks. So we want to address what those on the ground can do to continue to combat the lack of diversity we are seeing on our TVs and build greater inclusivity within our nation.

Unlike any casting platform currently on the market, Alcami Interactive contains Diversity Technology. This software, unique to us, enables an Evaluator to hide certain aspects of the candidates’ audition to help reduce bias led casting decisions. Casting directors can activate capabilities such as:

·     Hiding video – minimises any potential appearance or age biases assessors may have.

·     Personal details – mask spelling of applicants name to reduce any ethnic bias an assessor may have by spelling a name.

·    Disguising voice: masking indicators that could raise prejudice, such as an accent and gender.

·   Hiding feedback from applicants: If assessors want to assess applicants objectively without allowing information from applicants to influence the decision (such as having connections internally).

·    Hiding evaluator feedback from other assessors: Minimises chances of group-think.

Utilising diversity technology during screening will help casting directors to evaluate all candidates fairly based solely on the content of their audition rather than through the lens of any prejudice they may unknowingly hold. Encouraging decision-makers at higher levels to also view candidates using these features may increase the number of diverse candidates being selected for later stages of screen tests and finally increasing the chances of assembling a culturally diverse cast.

If you need some guidance shaping your screening process, get in touch with us at Alcami Interactive to request a personalised demo.