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UBCP/ACTRA partnered with the Geena Davis Institute to do a study on equity and diversity in the film industry. The report provides data on the on-screen representation of gender, race, disability, fatness, age, and 2SLGBTQIA+ identity in British Columbia’s film and television industry. It highlights both the progress that has been made and the challenges that remain in ensuring that all members of our society are accurately and fairly represented on screen. The film and television industry has a unique power to shape public perceptions and attitudes, and it is crucial that the stories we tell reflect the diversity of our communities.

Key Findings

In this analysis, we present findings from feature films, TV shows, and TV movies shot in 2018, 2019, and 2021, based on the representations of six identities: gender, race/ethnicity, 2SLGBTQIA+, disability, fatness, and age. We also analyze characters based on prominence, billing, story role, and traits.

  • Across all years, male characters outnumber female characters across all production types (55.0% male characters compared with 44.9% female characters). This difference is widest in film (61.2% male compared with 38.6% female), whereas male and female characters are nearly balanced in TV movies (50.7% compared with 49.3%). 
  • The gap between the shares of male and female characters on screen decreases over time, changing from 58.3% male characters in 2018 (compared with 41.5% female), to 49.9% male in 2021 (compared with 50.1% female), across all production types. 
  • Across all years, white characters make up over two-thirds of all characters in productions shot in B.C. TV movies have the highest share of white characters (74.2%), whereas film has the lowest (63.0%). 
  • Racial inclusion has increased over time. Across all production types, the proportion of white characters has decreased from 69.5% in 2018 to 58.6% in 2021. ∘ Across all years, a higher percentage of Latinx (7.9%) and Black (7.3%) characters are 2SLGBTQIA+, whereas a lower percentage of Asian and Pacific Islander (2.2%) and white (3.0%) characters are 2SLGBTQIA+. 
  • Across all years, less than 5% of characters are 2SLGBTQIA+ in any production type. TV shows have the highest 2SLGBTQIA+ representation (4.7% of all characters), followed by film (2.2%). Less than 1% of characters in TV movies are 2SLGBTQIA+ (0.9%). 
  • Over time, we see a significant increase in the share of 2SLGBTQIA+ characters between 2018 (2.8%) and 2021 (6.2%). This change mostly happened in tv shows, where the percentage of 2SLGBTQIA+ characters more than doubled, from 2018 (3.2%) to 2021 (7.9%). ∘ Across years and production types, 2SLGBTQIA+ characters are mostly female (66.3%), rather than male (30.3%) or gender-diverse (3.4%).
  • Across all years and production types, 3.3% of all characters have physical, cognitive, communication, or mental health disabilities. 
  • Across all production types, the percentage of characters with disabilities decreased from 2018 (4.0%) to 2021 (2.1%). ∘ Across all years and production types, a higher percentage of characters with disabilities are male (62.2%) compared with those who do not have disabilities (54.8%). In short, female representation is less among characters with disabilities than those without. 
  • Across all years and production types, characters with disabilities are given negative traits at higher rates than those without disabilities, including being characterized as unattractive (3.0% compared with 0.5%), undesirable (3.0% compared with 0.4%), or unintelligent (3.0% compared with 0.9%), as well as being put down by others (12.2% compared with 5.9%) or by the story (6.5% compared with 0.7%).
  • Across all years and production types, fat characters make up just over 5% of all characters. ∘ The highest percentage of fat characters are found in film (7.3%), compared to TV shows, which have the lowest percentage (4.7%), across all years. 
  • Across all years and production types, a significantly lower percentage of fat characters than their nonfat counterparts are protagonists (2.6% compared with 8.2%) and members of the fellowship (15.7% compared with 23.3%). This suggests that fat characters are not given roles of narrative significance. 
  • Across all years and production types, characters ages 50 and older make up just under one-fifth of all characters. They make up the highest percentage of characters in TV shows (26.9%) and lowest percentage of characters in TV movies (17.7%). 
  • A higher percentage of characters 50 and older than those under 50 are villains (4.5% compared with 3.0%) and antagonists (18.6% compared with 16.0%). A lower percentage are protagonists (2.0% compared with 9.3%) or members of the fellowship (18.2% compared with 24.0%), across years and production types.


  • Avoid “perfect” female characters. Female characters were more likely than male characters to be portrayed with positive attributes, while male characters were more likely to be shown with negative attributes. In the spirit of empowering women, it can be tempting to make female characters smarter and more appealing. However, it is also unrealistic and damaging to show women as flawless. 
  • Ensure that characters of all genders are dynamic and complex. Increase representations of characters of color — especially in TV movies. White characters were the overwhelming majority in all production types, but they were especially prominent in TV movies. Increase racial diversity to tell deeper stories and create opportunities for actors of color. 
  • Show older 2SLGBTQIA+ characters. 2SLGBTQIA+ characters tended to skew younger, reflecting the stereotype that queerness is a “new fad” or only for younger generations. However, people of all ages are 2SLGBTQIA+, and both older and younger viewers can benefit from having more representations of queer elders. 
  • Allow characters of all genders to be unapologetically fat. Male characters were more likely than female characters to be fat. Gender inequality in body-size diversity contributes to harmful double standards, with boys and men granted more leeway than girls and women in their physical stature and size. Anti-fat bias is incredibly harmful, and audiences can benefit significantly from seeing characters of all genders who are fat and also likable, attractive, funny, athletic, and dynamic, where their size is not the source of ridicule, motivation, or shame. 
  • Show people with disabilities at all levels of role prominence. The inclusion of characters with disabilities has decreased over time. Further, characters with disabilities are particularly uncommon in minor roles. Increase their visibility in roles both big and small. 
  • Avoid showing older characters as villains. Characters ages 50 and older were more likely than those under age 50 to be villains and antagonists. It is a common trope to show older characters as angry and out of touch, and thus they are prime candidates for villainy. Subvert this trope by showing them as progressive.