A rare behind-the-curtain look at acting that's less glam and more racist
Underrepresented actors often have been complicit in creating ethnic stereotypes in the media. For my own part, I rented out my Asian face to Jerry Lewis back in the day.Now we're not only speaking out, but creating, writing, and portraying who we are — as we are — in our great, dazzling diversity. As we contribute our authentic selves, the comedy becomes specific and real, the drama is distinctive and identifiable, and our society grows enriched and involving. Hollywood and the media now have the opportunity to actively engage with the talented diversity that comprises our entire society. But is it "to be or not to be? That is the question." — George Takei
Hollywood has a huge imagination.
In the last decade and a half, we've had:
George Clooney in space.
But for some reason, there's one thing that Hollywood still has a truly, deeply, inexplicably hard time imagining.
Complex, three-dimensional characters of color. Yes, indeed. The entertainment industry has a diversity problem.
Sure, there are more people of color in film and television today than there were for the better part of the last century, but it's far from reflective of our national diversity.
And when casting directors do hire people of color, what they seem to want is more a caricature of reality than reality itself.
When they say things like, "We're looking for a specific type" or "Think more 'urban,'" what they really mean is ...
Casting discrimination isn't just a symbolic problem, it's a practical one.
A 2014 UCLA study found that TV shows with diverse casts draw higher-than-average ratings. The same study found that "films with relatively diverse casts excelled at the box office and in return on investment." In spite of that, white actors are favored in almost 70% of casting calls.
One of the actors in this video had this to say:
"I oftentimes feel like, well, am I being racially paranoid, or is it in my head? But when you look at the numbers, not all artists of color can be crazy, you know? We're genuinely fighting the entertainment industry that seems very obsessed with telling Euro-centric stories and refuses to let go of it."
Film and television aren't made for casting directors or critics or even the actors themselves.
They're made for consumers.
That's us, people.
And we're already voting with our feet. And our eyeballs.
More than 10 million people tuned in to the winter premiere of "Scandal," starring Kerry Washington as a public relations guru with a complicated past.
The series premiere of "How to Get Away with Murder," starring Viola Davis as a hard-charging attorney, attracted an unbelievable 20.3 million viewers.
"Empire," starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson as warring music industry moguls, just set a record for the most consecutive ratings gains in all of television history.
Real diversity isn't just some fantasy, bleeding-heart, we-are-the-world ideal. It's a proven moneymaker.
And while Hollywood might finally be waking up, we can help them wake up faster by tuning in to shows with characters of color who are treated with respect and represented as real people, not cartoons.
As consumers, we have choices and voices we can use to stop the stereotypes. So let's keep on using 'em, shall we? — Team Upworthy