Half of cast for CBS's 'Survivor', 'Big Brother' and 'Love Island' to be people of color as fans hail move

CBS Studios announced it will diversify its unscripted shows making all future casts at least 50 percent Black, indigenous and people of color 'moving forward'


                            Half of cast for CBS's 'Survivor', 'Big Brother' and 'Love Island' to be people of color as fans hail move
'Big Brother' host Julie Chen (Getty Images)
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On Monday, November 9, 2020, CBS Studios announced it will diversify its unscripted shows by making them feature at least 50 percent Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) "moving forward". This means popular shows like 'Survivor', 'Big Brother' and 'Love Island' will have more diverse cast starting in 2021. The move comes after fans of the shows urged CBS to expand its diversity efforts. In fact, several former 'Survivor' contestants spoke out about the lack of diversity in cast line-ups. Entertainment Weekly tweeted the news saying, "CBS says future casts of shows like Survivor, Big Brother, and Love Island will contain at least 50 percent people of color moving forward."

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In June 2020, fans launched a petition, urging the network to include greater diversity and inclusivity in their content. This was followed by 'Survivor' contestants speaking out about the lack of diversity in the show's cast. Talking about the decision, George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS, in a statement said, "The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production, and all phases of storytelling. As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our Network."

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According to the pact, CBS will allocate a minimum of 25 percent of its annual unscripted development budget to projects created or co-created by BIPOC talent. The network, which is owned by ViacomCBS through its CBS Entertainment Group division, made similar promises for its scripted division saying it will devote at least a quarter of its future script development budget to stories by BIPOC writers. It has set a target of having at least 40 percent of BIPOC writers in every writers' room.

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Reactions to move

Reacting positively to the news, one user tweeted, "Diversity and inclusivity are the future. This decision should have been made a long time ago, but I am so happy to see it being put into action!" Another wrote: "This is exceptional news. Very excited as a 'Survivor' viewer and even more excited as someone who hopes to play the game someday." A third tweeted, "Does this mean we can get blacks versus whites on 'Survivor'? Split them right down the middle, might as well, right?" "And they’ll be the first vote-outs in 'Big Brother' like always!," read another tweet.

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