UPDATED, 2:00 PM: NBCUniversal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion group has expanded its Spellcheck for Bias partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, in an effort to further bolster authentic onscreen representation and casting opportunities for underrepresented talent.
Spellcheck for Bias is a research tool developed by the Institute in partnership with USC’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze film and television scripts and manuscripts. It identifies the representation of characters and percentage of dialogue by gender, race, LGBTQIA, disabilities, Age 50+ and Body Type, while looking at unidentified characters and other attributes, including violence, discrimination and intelligence. The DEI resource has empowered NBCU creative and production executives to drive change in the early stages of the development process across the conglomerate’s film, television and streaming portfolio.
NBCUniversal’s partnership with the Institute began with a year-long pilot program, in which the tool was used to analyze, enhance and increase Latino and Latina representation in content from Universal Pictures, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation. The partners now look to expand Spellcheck for Bias to identify stereotypes, tropes and casting opportunities for Black talent, as well as Asian American Pacific Islanders, while introducing the tool to Universal Studio Group, Entertainment Content Group and further content creators.
Actress/producer Kate del Castillo, Blumhouse Productions’ Bea Sequeira, Brownstone Productions’ Alison Small, Lord Miller’s Aditya Sood, NY Latino Film Festival’s Calixto Chinchilla, Will Packer Productions and America Ferrera’s Harness were among the advisors helping to create and refine Spellcheck For Bias’ Latino and Latina criteria, along with execs across Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Entertainment Content, Universal Studio Group and Telemundo.
As it enters the next phase of its collaboration with the Institute and USC, the GTDI team is assembling a new group of advisors, who will help to expand the research criteria for Black and AAPI representation.
PREVIOUSLY, FEBRUARY 19, 2020: Universal Entertainment Group, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have entered a year-long partnership to pilot a Spellcheck for Bias resource to help support more authentic Latinx onscreen representation and casting opportunities during the early stages of the development process.
This goes in line with Universal’s continuing efforts to make strides in diversity and inclusion in film. In the Geena Davis Institute’s soon-to-be published annual, “See Jane 2020 report”, they look at the top 100 Films from the U.S. across Gender, Race, LGBTQIA and Disabilities portrayals. The study shows that there is a continuing lack of Latinx representation. The report finds that while Latinx accounts for 18.3% of the U.S. population (according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau), only 4.7% of all characters were Latinx in the top 100 popular films of 2019, compared with the 66.2% who were white characters.
“I’m so thrilled that NBCUniversal has committed to working with us on this pilot program,” said Davis. “Their support will be extremely valuable in developing the tool to address the sparse and underdeveloped portrayals of the Latinx community which our upcoming study underscores. I believe our Spellcheck for Bias is going to be the biggest game-changer of all in creating onscreen inclusion and will help NBCUniversal and other studios identify opportunities to dramatically increase Latinx representations in their content, to counteract the conscious and unconscious bias in all of us.”
Spellcheck for Bias is currently being developed by the Institute in partnership with USC Viterbi to analyze scripts, manuscripts and advertising briefs to identify representation of characters and percentage of dialogue by gender, race, LGBTQIA and disabilities as well as unidentified characters along with several other attributes like violence, discrimination, and intelligence. With this partnership, Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion will work with a team of advisors to develop the criteria to expand Spellcheck’s capabilities to include Latinx representation. Once the software is complete, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation (DWA), Focus Features, and NBC Entertainment will provide scripts to test the tool for its effectiveness and potential to be used to help other underrepresented groups in film and television.
Creative partners include Actress/Producer Kate del Castillo; Harness, Co-Founded by America Ferrera; Blumhouse Productions, Brownstone Productions, Lord Miller, Will Packer Productions, NY Latino Film Festival as well as Executives Across NBCUniversal to Participate as Advisors in Developing Software Criteria.