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Breaking Barriers 

Why Representation in Movies and TV shows Matter

Lights, Camera, Action!

Diversity is a wonderful thing, but it’s not shown as much as we would like in movies and television. By breaking stereotypes, empowering others and giving power to unrepresented voices, we can create an environment that everyone can relate to. The power that movies and television hold can break down stereotypes and provide a voice for others.

Margot Robbie stars in Barbie


Actors are role models in some shape or form because they have such a big platform in the media. Actors show different perspectives through their acting in movies and television shows which helps to see the world differently.

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Margot Robbie is an actor I look up to because she actively supports opportunities that empower young girls and

women worldwide. Robbie has spoken out about wanting to create more roles and work for women in hollywood. I think her role in “Barbie” contributed to her being my role model because she shows that you don’t have to be perfect to be happy and successful.




Encanto was released November 24, 2021

“Encanto” tells the story of a Hispanic family, the Madrigal’s, who live in this place called Encanto.The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the Madrigal family with a unique gift, every child except Mirabel. But, she ends up being the last hope for the Madrigal family when she realizes the magic surrounding Encanto is now in danger. 

The purpose of this film is to show people you don’t need to be special to deserve love, security and overall respect. People of Hispanic heritage make up 25% of the population, but only 3.1% of these people are lead television actors or even in movies/television. This movie makes it even more special since the whole cast is of Hispanic heritage.

In “Encanto”, the Madrigal family has a variety of people with different personalities, looks and powers. The middle sister, Luisa, has super strength and she is reliable and tough, but then the little sister, Mirabel, is the only one in the family who doesn’t have powers, but is very optimistic and open-minded. The contrast in personalities within the characters is important to have in these movies because it shows everyone, especially young kids, make sure they know that it is okay to be different and that everyone is unique in their own way. 



Chadwick Boseman starred in Black Panther released on February 16, 2018

“Black Panther” has a similar way of showing representation. In the movie, T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, is a member of the royal family of the fictional African country of Wakanda. After the death of his father, T’Challa claimed the throne and the role of Black Panther. Actors of this movie other than Chadwick Boesman, includes Michael B. Jordan, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, and many others. 

“Black Panther” shows representation of African descent, but also shows diversity and cultures including, Kemet, Ethiopia, Mali, Ghana and Songhai. This movie shows the audience that being young, gifted and black is something you should show the world.


While there are movies that show representation, some have little to no diversity at all.


Reese Witherspoon starred in Legally Blonde which was released July 13, 2001

“Legally Blonde” showcases Ellle Woods, a caucasian woman going to law school in a male dominated field. She is perceived as a dumb blonde, but she wasn’t dumb at all.  She overcomes stereotypes and attends Harvard University becoming a successful lawyer. In the world, it’s a prejudiced place that sees a woman below a man. By being in a male run industry of law, Elle Woods had to prove herself for her position.

Although the movie gave room for women in a male dominated society, the cast was almost entirely caucasian. It’s important that movies like this have more diversity because although it has a good story behind it, it’s still a white woman in a position that is dominated by white people.





One of the top movies this year, “Barbie” shows great diversity within the cast, consisting of Senegalese, Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, British, French, Rwandan, Scottish and others.

The cast of “Barbie” has people of diverse backgrounds in important positions. The actor Issa Rae is a woman of color as the president. America Ferrera, who is Latina, is a single mother to her daughter Sasha, played by Ariana Greenblatt who is Puerto Rican and Jewish. Ferrera is of inspirational importance to the “Barbie” movie. This is mainly because of her speech about women and how difficult it is to be one and this helped spread the message of women empowerment. If you just look up the cast of the Barbie movie you will see the great diversity shown with it. If the “Barbie” movie can add representation to their film why can’t others?


There also needs to be more diversity with the directors and writers of these TV shows/movies. Only 17% of directors of movies and TV shows are of ethnic minorities and the other 83% are white.

In the movie “Legally Blonde” it has white directors and white writers. Although they may not try to, could this be the reason their shows/movies don’t have much diversity in them? They don’t have as wide of a perspective of diversity than other people with different ethnicities might have. By having people of different ethnicities/cultures, it could widen the amount of representation in TV shows and movies because they would have a better perspective on it. 

For example, when you look at the directors/writers of the movies “Encanto” and “Black Panther” they both have a diverse group of individuals for the directors/co- directors and the writers. In “Encanto” one of the directors is white, but the other director, Bryon Howard, was born and raised in Japan, which contributes to the diversity of the directors. Also, co-director Charise Castro Smith is Cuban. 

By having this diversity in the directing it contributes to the amount of representation shown in the film. In “Black Panther” the director is Ryan Coogler and he was actually the first African-American Marvel Studios director. The co-writer of the movie, Joe Robert Cole, is also of African descent. 

“Diversity takes a step back in theatrical films – but strides forward in streaming,” according to UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report


When you watch the movie and realize the amount of diversity and just the overall talk of different cultures, it makes you realize how many movies are just not like this. The film “Black Panther” alludes to real cultures and traditions from Kemet, Ethiopia, Mali, Ghana and SonghaI. The movie takes place in Wakanda, which is an African country and this movie helped shift the perspective on usual stereotypes about Africa. But, in movies like “Legally Blonde”, it shows no talk about different cultures or diversities. I think the fact the directors/writers of “Black Panther” were of African descent definitely contributed to the amount of representation shown in the movie. 

As a whole, we as a society need to have more representation shown in films because it will affect everyone.

Representation is most important to be shown in the actors who are in these shows/movies since they have such a huge impact on society. So, by having this representation shown it will shape our perspectives and it will especially shape young people’s minds early to think widely and that not just one group of people can have a position of power.

I want the next generations to see people of all different backgrounds. I don’t want a one sided society and by having this representation in films it can change the world.

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