Powerful TV producer Ryan Murphy vows to review diversity guidelines on his shows

Producer Ryan Murphy on October 29, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

Producer Ryan Murphy on October 29, 2015 in Hollywood, California.  (2015 Getty Images)

The controversy regarding the lack of diversity in this year's acting nominations for the Oscars is not losing any steam. In fact, it looks like people with the power to address the issue are finally listening.

Director and producer Ryan Murphy – known for shows like “Glee,” “Nip/Tuck,” “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story” – is one of the first major players to openly take the criticism and vow to make some changes.

“I personally can do better,” he told the Hollywood Reporter, adding that he was inspired by the speech from former publicist Nanci Ryder during a "Women in Entertainment" magazine event recently.

“Nanci said, 'People in power, you have a position and responsibility to change the industry,' and I thought, 'She's right.’”

Murphy has pledged that he will have 50 percent of all director slots of his shows filled by either women or minority candidates by the end of 2016. He described “minority candidates” as people of color or members of the LGBT community.

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To that end, the prolific producer told THR he has created a new foundation within his 20th Century Fox Television-based production company called Half. 

He said he will hire someone to co-manage the foundation with him and will build a database of names and contact information to share with other TV producers looking to challenge Hollywood’s status quo.

According to the Directors Guild of America, about 16 percent of directors in television shows are women and about 18 percent are minorities. The DGA did not itemize the minorities by group.

“The industry has always been about 'You come to us',” Murphy said. “There’s not a lot of effort and inclusion, and I’m saying, ‘No, we’re going to go to you.'”

Murphy's move will probably be met with praise by members of the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition, who meet annually with the top four television networks in an effort to push for greater diversity in front and behind cameras.

This coalition, which includes the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans and American Indians in Film and Television, is launching its own initiative to put pressure on top motion picture studios.

“The fact that all of the nominees across the top four acting categories at this year’s Oscars are white impacts African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans. Individuals from all of our communities have been denied meaningful opportunities for their work to be considered for the Academy Awards,” said Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, in a statement. 

“We’ve broken barriers in television and we’ll do it again with film; studios need to know that representation matters — for recognition of hard work and talent, for combating negative stereotypes in our public discourse and for the next generation of our future leaders in the film industry,” he added.

Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who previously voiced her support for those in the industry speaking out against the lack of diversity, said Wednesday that the #OscarSoWhite campaign shows that people want to see themselves represented onscreen.

"It’s a symptom of something else," Nyong'o told NBC’s Today Show co-host Savannah Guthrie. "What we are asking for is really for more stories to be told — for inclusion in the stories that are told."

Nyong’o, who won the Academy Award in 2013 for her role in “12 Years a Slave,” said it’s important to have diversity in films and television because it more accurately reflects the world.

"I think it’s good for all of us when we hear a diverse number of stories and are able to experience more diversity. It’s more reflective of the world we live in," said Nyong'o. "And so I think that's what we ultimately want — is for a diversity of stories to be told.”

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