As part of its unwavering commitment to improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the African entertainment space, multimedia giant Paramount Africa (home to the biggest and iconic entertainment brands like BET, MTV, MTV Base & Nickelodeon) has published its new insights study titled ‘Reflecting Me: Representation on Screen’.
This wealth of research– derived from surveys from 2.5 million kids, teens, young adults and adults spanning 73 countries– directly reflects consumer insights, exploring how different people of varying ages perceive representation on-screen with particular focus on spectrums encompassing ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, disability, amongst others.
Focusing on Nigeria, as one of Africa’s biggest social hubs, the study focused on how certain target groups comprising 1008 people aged 13-49 across six regions (North-Central, North-East, North-West, South-East, South-South and South-West) felt about representation on-screen. Findings were obtained through remote video interviews and immersive digital experiences amongst diverse audiences in order to bypass geographical and COVID-19 constraints.
Giuliana Dias, Director of Research and Insights Division at Paramount Africa, said that the study was aimed at ensuring that Paramount Africa has an impact on the issue of diversity and representation.
Commenting on the results, she said, “The study outcomes direct and shape how on-screen content should look and feel, and also shows that improvement is necessary in many aspects”.
The statistics revealed that 94 percent of people of different ethnicities and cultures in relatively equal proportions agree that companies making TV shows and movies should commit to increasing diversity and representation on-screen. 89 percent, however, were of the opinion that these companies should commit to increasing diversity and representation off-screen.
However, majority (90%) of the respondents agreed that change is needed with regards to on-screen representation as there needs to be more diversity in TV shows and movies. 64% were satisfied with the current levels of representation on screen, while 40% feel there needs to be a variety of types of groups and identities represented in TV shows and movies.
The study further revealed that poor representation affects Nigerians’ sense of belonging, self-esteem and confidence, making a case for more accurate representation in TV shows and movies as they influence perceptions in the real world.
“The screen is considered by many to be a depiction of what happens in society. While we may argue that imagination plays a crucial role in shaping what is aired on TV and other visual platforms, imagination is never completely independent of reality. Hence, when we do not adequately represent people on-screen, it sends a message that they are not seen, they are not heard and they do not matter. This is one thing we are working actively prioritising across all of channel brands”, said Bada Akintunde-Johnson, Country Manager (Nigeria), Paramount Africa.
Country Manager (Nigeria) for Paramount Africa, Akintunde Bada Johnson noted that the study is insightful and enlightening, citing it as “a definite and encompassing inquiry into the modern African predisposition towards diversity and inclusivity in media and entertainment.”
“Media, in all its forms, has immense power to shape perception. Television, films and digital media can influence how we see others but more importantly, how we see ourselves. As Nigeria’s and indeed Africa’s foremost screen content creators, Paramount Africa will continue fostering accurate and authentic on-screen representation that conveys inclusivity at its highest – helping our viewers break down perception barriers, open them up to new ideas as well as provide powerful and inspiring role models,” he concluded.
For more information on Reflecting Me: Representation on Screen, read the insightful study here: https://insights.viacomcbs.com/post/global-audiences-want-better-representation-on-screen/.