In a recent interview with MTV news, Empire’s Jussie Smollett gave his perspective on diversity in television. Smollett admits that he feels TV is a medium for diversity now more so than ever because we as the viewers control it.
“TV is a more diverse space right now because TV is driven by the people,” Smollett told MTV News.”
“When a television show like ‘Scandal’ becomes the biggest show in recent history, suddenly advertisers and networks want to jump on that. And what it’s showing is that people want to see diversity,” he said.
I must say, I do agree with Smollett, who plays “Jamal Lyon” on Fox’s Empire.
On Monday nights I can turn my TV on and See Alfre Woodard as an African-American female President on State of Affairs. On a Wednesday I tune into Fox to see a predominantly African American cast on Empire, and on Thursdays I can see Viola Davis play a heck of role as a prestigious law professor on How to Get Away With Murder, and later this year the predominantly Latina cast of Devious Maids will be returning to Lifetime for a third season.
The list goes on.
The array of diversity being shown on TV is moving networks to see that it pays to give the people what they want to see.
Ethnic barriers on television are being broken show by show, script by script. Society isn’t comprised of just one race, so to see a melting pot of all racial backgrounds on the small screen only makes sense. Viewers are watching television to see actors and actresses who they can relate to, no matter how broad the story line may be.
People want to see themselves on television shows with their same situations and circumstances, they want to see people who mirror their lives and backgrounds.
I think diversity in shows only opens up doors for diversity everywhere else like, film, the fashion industry, the world of art and dance, you name it.
Though there is still a long way to go, I have to admit that I enjoy seeing people who look like me, too.
“What message does it send to the masses when someone — or an entire race — is completely snuffed? And completely ignored for work that was at the top of their game? That’s what we need to be asking,” said Smollett.