NBCUniversal, Geena Davis Institute Study Black, Asian Representation – The Hollywood Reporter

After a successful pilot run analyzing Latino representation, NBCUniversal and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media are expanding their Spellcheck for Bias partnership to cover how Black and Asian American Pacific Islander people and characters are hired and also portrayed.

Spellcheck for Bias is a digital tool developed by the Institute in partnership with the Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, that uses artificial intelligence to analyze scripts and identify characters by gender, race, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, age and body type. The tool also can measure percentage of dialogue by demographic identity as well as pick up on characteristics such as violence, discrimination and intelligence.

“I am heartened by NBCUniversal’s commitment and ongoing dedication to systemically improve Latino, Latina, Black and AAPI representation in their content companywide as well as to incorporate many insights from our Spellcheck for Bias into upcoming productions,” Davis said in a statement. “We are so excited to continue this partnership with NBCUniversal along with Shri Narayanan and his team at USC Viterbi as we expand our Spellcheck for Bias tool.”

By using Spellcheck for Bias to flag stereotypes, tropes and casting opportunities pertaining to Latino characters, NBCU was able to make adjustments to 20 percent of the scripts it tested during tool’s pilot phase over the past year. The tool was fed almost 20 film and television scripts in active development across the company, including Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Universal TV and Telemundo, to assess and strengthen research criteria that was developed by a team of advisors that included NBCU executives as well as actress/producer Kate del Castillo, Blumhouse Productions’ Bea Sequeira, Brownstone Productions’ Alison Small, Lord Miller’s Aditya Sood, the New York Latino Film Festival’s Calixto Chinhilla and representatives from Will Packer Productions and America Ferrera’s Harness.

“We are encouraged by the impact this research pilot has already made across our company and the industry,” said Universal Pictures president Peter Cramer. “Leveraging the ingenuity of the team of experts at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media as well as collaborating with our creative partners at the Universal Studio Group, Entertainment Content Group and Telemundo, we look forward to further developing this important research tool for Latino and Latina representation as well as other underrepresented groups and bringing Spellcheck for Bias to even more creators across our portfolio.”

NBCU’s Global Talent Development and Inclusion group will put together a group of advisors to devise the research criteria for Black and AAPI representation. Content from across the NBCU portfolio will again be used to test the tool. The plan is to continue developing Spellcheck for Bias to include more and more historically excluded groups.

“Solving the complex issues of inclusivity and equity throughout the entertainment industry requires fresh, authentic and innovative perspectives from inside and outside the studio system,” NBCU executive vp of inclusion – talent and content, Janine Jones-Clark said in a statement. “While we know we have much more work to do, we are grateful for our creative advisors who helped us take a much-needed step in the right direction. We look forward to building momentum as we continue to work towards advancing every aspect of inclusive storytelling – from casting to narrative.”

Spellcheck for Bias also partnered with Disney in late 2019 to screen for gender bias. Recent studies from the Geena Davis Institute have analyzed representation of Asians and Pacific Islanders and Black women and among TV writers.

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