Is Jamie Foxx's 'White Famous' Showtime Series A Good Sign For Hollywood Diversity?

The Showtime network has ordered a pilot episode for White Famous, a scripted comedy series from executive producer Jamie Foxx that deals with diversity in Hollywood.

The show will follow the exploits of a talented, young African American comedian whose star is rising in a predominantly-white entertainment industry. 

Foxx, whose own biography mirrors that of the series' protagonist, will play a recurring role in the potential TV show.

"I came up from standup comedy, so to be able to share that aspect of my life on screen with a project like White Famous is incredibly exciting," Foxx told Deadline Hollywood Monday.

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Foxx's project seems destined to at least marginally address criticisms that Hollywood won't develop diverse roles for black actors.

The itself title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the moment when a non-white actor's race becomes a secondary attribute to their notoriety – hence, they cross over and become famous in the same way A-list white actors are.

In recent years, racial and gender diversity in American entertainment has dominated discussions about the industry's future. For the second consecutive year, none of the Oscar-nominated actors chosen by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was a person of color in 2016.

White Famous co-producer Lionsgate has already been pushing back on this overwhelming whiteness, having previously partnered with black directors Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels on film projects that featured majority-black casts.

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Unfortunately, it's still an uphill battle. Roles for entertainers of color in TV and film are often rife stereotypes — such as the "black best friend" who rarely gets a complex story arc of their own. 

This was part of rapper Snoop Dogg's criticism earlier this week, when he encouraged a boycott of the History Channel's remake of the slavery-themed TV miniseries, Roots.

"Let's create our own sh*t based on today, how we live and how we inspire people today," Snoop said in a video posted Monday to his Instagram account. "Black is what's real. F*ck that old sh*t."

Despite Snoop's protest, Roots became the most-watched miniseries premiere in three years when it aired Monday. A total of 8.5 million viewers tuned in for the first of four installments across four basic cable channels, according to ratings firm Nielsen Fast National. 

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Meanwhile, Hollywood's problem with minority underrepresentation continues largely unabated.

The United States' has over 318 million residents, nearly 40% of whom are non-white, according to the Census Bureau. A 2016 study by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communications showed some non-white racial groups were almost entirely absent on-screen from Hollywood projects in 2014 and 2015.

For instance, researchers examined 414 projects released by major film and TV studios both years and found about 50% of them did not cast an Asian or Asian American actor. Twenty percent of the content did not include a black character.

Perhaps Foxx's project with Showtime and Lionsgate, hot on the heels of the Roots reboot, will help swing these numbers in the other direction.