CBS Sets New Diversity Goals, Survivor Casts To Now Be At Least 50% People of Color

The network promises more diverse casting.

Photo: CBS

CBS announced on Monday a new set of diversity goals for its unscripted programming, aiming for casts that comprise at least 50% Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

These changes are scheduled to come into effect with the 2021-2022 season, meaning viewers should expect much more diverse casts for the next seasons of Survivor. The casting process for Seasons 41 and 42 had wrapped up in early 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic led to filming being postponed. Those seasons are currently in the process of being recast with the new diversity goals in mind.

“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,” said George Cheeks, president and CEO of the CBS Entertainment Group. “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.”

As well as changes in casting, CBS is also promising improvements on the production side of things, with at least a quarter of its annual unscripted development budget being allocated to projects created or co-created by BIPOC producers. The network also plans to increase diversity across other areas of its unscripted programming with new initiatives, though exact details have yet to be revealed.

The news comes following a petition launched earlier this year by former Survivor contestant, J’Tia Taylor, calling for more racial diversity in Survivor’s casting, filming, editing, and promoting. The initiative was co-signed by several Survivor alumni and led to the formation of The Black Survivor Alliance, a group formed with the aim of “bringing light to our collective experience with implicit bias and racism on and off the show.”

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

28 responses to “CBS Sets New Diversity Goals, Survivor Casts To Now Be At Least 50% People of Color”

  1. While people may think that is great news, for some that have been applying for years (that is not a POC) this can be seen as a way of screwing them over making it even harder to get on! 20 years of applying (since season 2) & nothing! Yet they allow Canadians, “kids” (as young as 16) & now 50% POC! How about completely screwing people that have been applying pretty much the entire existence of the show? Oh, that’s right, they are….

    • If you’ve been applying for 20 years and haven’t made it on, then maybe they just think you wouldn’t make good TV.

      • Oh, that’s nice/supportive. Sounds more like an insult to me but whatever. What do you know about my applications/videos to know what “wouldn’t make good TV”? Haven’t you seen some of the bad/boring people that HAVE been on? So who do you think you are judging me like that?

        • I’m just saying, if you haven’t heard back in 20 years, there is obviously something CBS/SEG doesn’t see appealing for their show.

          • Well, how about you know there aren’t reasons for that? If (not as many) POC don’t apply how can they get on? Not only that, but (& I apologize if I’m off back here) how many blacks/POC swim? I don’t know many/any. Then, take into account how many water/swimming challenges there are. Perhaps that’s why there might not be as many POC applying. Do you really want to see people on that don’t go through “the process” of applying? Because I sure don’t!

    • Do you ever have anything nice or positive to say? All I ever see from you is negativity and hostility. It’s no wonder you’ve never gotten a call back.

      • How would you feel if you were in (exact same) my position? Would you cower in a corner or would you speak your mind & be 100% completely honest how you feel about being completely ignored? I don’t think you have any room to tell me how “wrong” I am for feeling the way I do about something I’m so passionate about!

    • I understand where you’re coming from, but you’re not entitled for CBS to cast you just because you’ve been applying for a long time. I know that sucks but maybe it’s just not meant to be. If this new change means representing more people and new types of people being cast, I’m all for it. Sorry your dream of being on the show hasn’t materialized, but your anger here might be misplaced, man.

      • You seem to be missing the point. The point is this: they keep making it harder & harder to apply! I don’t see how it is any of your business saying my anger is misplaced….nor should you be insulting me telling me what is or isn’t “meant to be “!
        Not a single person has said anything positive or supportive but everyone is quick to judge & tell me how wrong I am for getting pissed off with how hard it has been! Maybe I wouldn’t be so annoy if I wasn’t attacked for standing up for myself!

      • Which, I’d guess is about 90% of their fan base & therefore, makes about as much sense as a snowman in summer! Figure that 1 out….

    • I can’t imagine how many millions of people apply each year. That’s many millions that don’t get on. If you weren’t chosen yet, you are like most people who apply. I don’t think your being screwed over because after 20 years of mostly white people on the show it will finally be fair to minorities. That’s not just black people but a huge section of our population will finally get a better shot to be in the show. You and the rest of the white people will still make up half the cast. Your chances haven’t been damaged much here.
      I bet your right about less minorities applying to the show but it’s also a very white show. If they don’t see anyone that represents them up there, and the one or two that are on the show are voted out first, they are going to loose interested. So putting more on the show will also create interest for a new demographic. As far as less black people knowing how to swim, yes true but changing now. And that’s probably not what’s is keeping them from applying. Plenty of people get on the show that can’t make a fire or fish (shocks me). Smart people learn this stuff before they go and I have actually seen at least one black person that took swimming lessons just before being on one of these. I would bet it’s more of a lack of interest in the show and the idea of what the contests go through that stops them. Personally I love the show but I couldn’t handle being cold, wet, hungry, thirsty and don’t want to be in TV. Lots of reasons to want to be on the show and not want to try to be in it. You also have to look at how many people are secure enough in their job that they can leave for almost 2 months. Thats a huge problem for most.
      If you are unique, have a good eye catching video and a lot of luck you still might make it on one day.

  2. About half a year ago the big talk in Survivor conversations was the gender imbalance among Survivor champions (6 male champions in a row, and 12 of the last 15 champions have been men), (62 of the last 68 votes to win at final tribal council have gone to men).Whatever happened to that discussion?

    • Just like everything else, it’s all like politics….women complain like men win too much (or vice versus, I don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff), or too many whites on the show & not enough POC, who can/can’t apply (residency/age/etc.)….they what (or how much of stuff) they broadcast on the show to be PC & not offend anybody (racism, “inappropriate touching” [which could mean different things to different people], etc). It was gender equality before, it’s race equality now….next it’l be sexual orientation equality or something stupid just to not offend that demographic. You can’t please everybody but everybody wants to be pleased. IMO, the show would be much better if they weren’t becoming too PC & didn’t worry about offending people – just let them play Survivor & whatever happens happens – if you don’t like it & are (easily) offend then don’t watch!

      • Having more potential viewers be represented is not “stupid” you’d be shocked how much of our population is actually gay (LGBTQ). They would more likely to watch the show if there were a few people that are like them on it. Representing more people isn’t just PC it’s just fair. Also more interesting. If they don’t make am effort to have a variety of ages, sex, race etc it would always be 12 pretty for white 30 year olds.
        I love Amazing Race and once they had a “little person” woman on there. I’m 5′ so life is a bit harder for me so I was very interested in watching her compete with all the large strong men and do very well. Once they had a women who had a prosthetic leg and I bet it was great for young people with a disability see that they can do what she can. Variety is a good thing. Representing more potential viewers is a good thing.

  3. I have definitely never been in favor of racism. I once physically evicted someone from my house for speaking one racial slur, and that person has never been back.

    That said, CBS needs to be very careful with these new initiatives because they look for all the world to be hard-and-fast quotas. Implementing these goals as they are currently stated will get CBS into a lot of legal trouble.

    • They needed to announce it to encourage (more) POC to apply (because they probably don’t have enough to sustain their new policy).

    • Really? I can’t believe you just said something so stupid! They only have had more “white people” on because there have been more applying! Truth be told, “black people” have ALWAYS had “the same opportunities” to get on if they actually applied! What about people that have applied to basically EVERY SINGLE season since season 2 & have never gotten said “opportunity”? I would LOVE to find JUST ONE (1) person that has applied as often – or more – than I have! Unless or until you are in that position you have no business telling me how upset I should or shouldn’t be!

      • Based upon your attitude, by reading everything you have posted here, it would not matter if you were black, hispanic, white or asian. You’re just not their cup ofvtea, sweetheart.

  4. I wish they would have put out the stats on the previous seasons on how many of each race and gender actually applied to be on the show.

  5. I enjoyed Survivor, Big Brother and The Great Race when the cast was selected for the person’s looks, personality and background. There were some I loved and some I hated. And some I loved to hate. Now that the cast is selected according to the CBS diversity goals, the shows bore me so I don’t watch.

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