During The Hollywood Reporter’s Raising our Voices luncheon, Taika Waititi, a prominent producer and director, expressed his frustration with the white power structure in Hollywood and its failure to address diversity issues. He criticized the industry for consistently relying on underrepresented communities to provide solutions to the problem of representation.
Waititi emphasized that he was tired of being asked how to fix the industry’s lack of diversity and inclusivity. He believed that while it was positive that the issue was being discussed, it was insufficient to simply seek guidance on how to address it. Waititi called on white decision-makers in Hollywood to take responsibility and come up with their own solutions, demonstrating a willingness to relinquish control and elevate underrepresented voices.
He highlighted the lack of indigenous representation in the industry and sarcastically remarked that they were being forced to talk about the problem and provide solutions instead of being given opportunities to create authentic content. Waititi compared this situation to someone invading and destroying one’s home, then demanding a conversation about the aftermath.
Rather than relying on underrepresented individuals as tokens in films and TV shows, Waititi suggested a different approach. He argued that Hollywood should focus on decolonizing the screen, a concept introduced by his mentor, Merata Mita. According to Waititi, it wasn’t about including every ethnic group in every production but ensuring that communities have full control over their own stories. He advocated for Polynesian stories to be written and helmed by Polynesian individuals, free from the influence of white showrunners. Decolonizing the screen, as Waititi explained, meant moving away from a predominantly white perspective in storytelling.
In essence, Waititi’s statements conveyed his frustration with the existing power structure in Hollywood, which he believed perpetuated the industry’s diversity issues. He called for white decision-makers to take the initiative in addressing these problems and emphasized the importance of authentic representation and decolonizing the screen.