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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

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Hollywood has a huge imagination.

In the last decade and a half, we've had:

Billionaire superheroes.


Hot elves.

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

This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?

Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.

The best!

If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!

Image via

Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created over 250 books during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.

But here's something you may not have known about these classics: They've been slowly changing over the years.

Don't panic! They've been changing in a good way.

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Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness explains one way the rich get richer.

Any time conversations about wealth and poverty come up, people inevitably start talking about boots.

The standard phrase that comes up is "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," which is usually shorthand for "work harder and don't ask for or expect help." (The fact that the phrase was originally used sarcastically because pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is literally, physically impossible is rarely acknowledged, but c'est la vie.) The idea that people who build wealth do so because they individually work harder than poor people is baked into the American consciousness and wrapped up in the ideal of the American dream.

A different take on boots and building wealth, however, paints a more accurate picture of what it takes to get out of poverty.

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"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) and actor Peter Dinklage.

On Tuesday, Upworthy reported that actor Peter Dinklage was unhappy with Disney’s decision to move forward with a live-action version of “Snow White and the Seven Drawfs” starring Rachel Zegler.

Dinklage praised Disney’s inclusive casting of the “West Side Story” actress, whose mother is of Colombian descent, but pointed out that, at the same time, the company was making a film that promotes damaging stereotypes about people with dwarfism.

"There's a lot of hypocrisy going on, I've gotta say, from being somebody who's a little bit unique," Dinklage told Marc Maron on his “WTF” podcast.

"Well, you know, it's really progressive to cast a—literally no offense to anybody, but I was a little taken aback by, they were very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White," Dinklage said, "but you're still telling the story of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.' Take a step back and look at what you're doing there.”

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