Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

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Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  puddingcup on Thu Dec 04, 2014 5:03 pm

I thought that we already had this topic, but couldn't find it. (I admit that discussing race and ethnicity issues in Hollywood seems trivial in light of race issues highlighted by current events. But not only is this not the place to discuss those issues, but it helps me get out of bed, so to speak, to talk about the lighter issues here, and I hope for others as well.)

In the Chris Rock topic, we've been talking about racial and ethnic diversity in casting.

Kiran mentioned the case of Dev Patel:
he has a perfectly respectable career and works a lot BUT...he was the lead of a huge movie, that swept the Oscars, was nominated for several awards himself...came pretty close to an Oscar nom, is young, cute, a viable romantic lead....if he was white he would not be the 7th lead of the Newsroom wrote:

I totally agree. I know that people were saying or worrying about similar things with respect to Gabourey Sidibe's career, and Lupita N'yongo. And both Cutebutpsycho and Kiran mourned the cancellation of Selfie, which had taken the huge step of casting John Cho as a sitcom romantic lead.

Ok, i know in another thread I said that I didn't like Selfie, but it had definitely started to grow on me when I heard that it got cancelled. I'm continuing to watch the episodes online, but I'm sad about it. I mean, I would have been sad about the cancellation even if it was a bad show, just because of the rarity of seeing an Asian American male on tv in a non-ineffectual/nerd role (I haven't seen Walking Dead, because I'm not really into zombies, but I hear Steve Yeun is great in it), but it was starting to get a lot better. And like Kiran said in the other topic, Cho's casting was also important because his character didn't "need" to be Asian and they cast him, so why not more diverse casting choices in other places?

I had also been watching the show Sullivan & Son, which I thought was mediocre, sorry, but was watching out of support. Sullivan & Son was big because it portrayed a half-Asian, or mixed race family in a sitcom. Anyway, that show has been cancelled, too.

Fresh Off the Boat is coming out, and I hope that one lasts.

I posted this Chris Rock quote over in his thread:
"everyone likes to see themselves onscreen, so there are some instances where there's a black audience laughing at something that a white audience wouldn't laugh at because a black audience is really just happy to see itself."
I'm Asian American, but growing up in the 80s, I watched a lot of black sitcoms, I think because there were hardly any people who looked like me on tv, black families were the next closest thing.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  blixie on Thu Dec 04, 2014 5:23 pm

Yeah Selfie was starting to become interesting to me, I think it still had a LOT of rough not particularly funny edges, but I could see it starting to gell, it's a serious bummer it didn't get the chance to blossom, but at the same time it's the only minority led show that struggled this fall.

I wonder if Selfie had been on Fox if it wouldn't have got a bit more breathing room since they've got New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Mindy Project, all with nicely diverse casts. I also wonder how much better Selfie would of been if they had inverted the trope, Cho be the hot social clueless media mess that needed spit shining up by Gillan's character. Having said that maybe he's free to come back to Sleepy Hollow which coincidentally started to suck when Andy left in the first episode of S2.


This has a been an ambitious and great year for minority lead/driven shows on tv: Black-ish is a hit, as is Jane the Virgin, and I believe Cristela is also doing well. Jane the Virgin is also pretty much been the critical hit of the fall. I hope Off the Boat manages to hit the same delicate balance that JtV has. Ooh and I'm super excited about Archie Punjabi's development deal for her own show, hopefully whatever it is goes to series because she kicks so much ass. And I won't play I'm stupid excited for what appears to be the OTT  Black Rap Family soap opera Empire reuniting Taraji P Henson with Terence Howard.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  puddingcup on Thu Dec 04, 2014 5:27 pm

Ooh and I'm super excited about Archie Punjabi's development deal for her own show, hopefully whatever it is goes to series because she kicks so much ass.

Did not know this! Nice. I love Brooklyn 99 - I think it's the best sitcom on now. I also love the Mindy Project.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Cutebutpsycho on Fri Dec 05, 2014 12:45 am

Brooklyn Nine Nine is one of my favorites right now too, and believe me, I noticed the diversity in the casting because it brought so many fun voices and interesting actors to roles.

I've had discussions with friends about Fresh Off The Boat and my big worry is that people might pass on it because of the title (like Selfie -- I think people dismissed it too early because of the title. People forget that it takes awhile for comedies to gel). But to be honest, it's real. It's not nice, it's not polite, but it's real and I think it also describes the family and their decision to move from a very Chinese-centered community to Orlando. The show reminds me of Everybody Hates Chris and that's really a good thing.

I feel like with Asian-American centered shows, there's so much expectation on the characters to be likable and identifiable and not too "ethnic" that it basically kills the story (see what happened to All American Girl twenty years ago) and creative voice. Right now I would gladly punch someone in the throat to get a show focused on Asian Americans where we're not the best friend to the lead. And I'm scared because if John Cho can't do it, who can?

(I realize that Lucy Liu is lead in Elementary, but I'm focusing on comedies right now)
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Grainne Mhaol on Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:39 am

This season of Sleepy Hollow has been a frustrating one, watching what had been a refreshingly diverse show quickly lose everything it had been praised for. Characters the audience loved, like Frank, Jenny and even the freaking heroine, Abbie were sidelined in service of a redemption storyline for the Crane family that nobody wanted or needed.

I have ranted about this in the Sleepy Hollow thread, but this is a perfect example of a show losing its freshness and originality in a vain attempt to gain a wider audience and losing its fans in the process. Its amazing to see the heartbreak among its staunchest defenders - this was a show that featured actors of colour in unconventional roles, and that was what we loved about it.
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Cutebutpsycho on Fri Dec 05, 2014 7:43 pm

Sleepy Hollow's, sudden change has always puzzled me and made me wonder if it was because the initial overseers abandoned their post of something. I remember reading somewhere that FOX disbanded its diversity division, which probably killed any progress made.

I have to also say I've been really happy with Jane the Virgin, not just because of the cast, but I think it also sums up the intergenerational language dynamics in a lot of families. I really identified with because I grew up in a household where the parents would speak one language to each other, then English to you. Or you'd answer back in English. It's a really nice touch for that show.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Kiran on Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:16 am

Russell Peters makes some interesting points about their only being one of each minority allowed to really be successful in this interview.

How else does that attitude show up?
The New York Times. My publicist reached out and said, “Hey, Russell Peters is playing the Garden. He’s sold out the Barclays Center, he sold out Radio City Music Hall for two nights. He sold out the Beacon. He’s done all these things, would you guys be interested in writing a piece on him?” And their reply was, “Uh, no, we just wrote a piece on Aziz Ansari in October.”
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  eventide82 on Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:44 am

Kiran wrote:Russell Peters makes some interesting points about their only being one of each minority allowed to really be successful in this interview.

How else does that attitude show up?
The New York Times. My publicist reached out and said, “Hey, Russell Peters is playing the Garden. He’s sold out the Barclays Center, he sold out Radio City Music Hall for two nights. He sold out the Beacon. He’s done all these things, would you guys be interested in writing a piece on him?” And their reply was, “Uh, no, we just wrote a piece on Aziz Ansari in October.”

Ugh. I hate that that is the Times' response. It's crazy. Russell Peters' success on the stand up circuit is insane. He sells out arenas here in Australia as well every time he performs, and he's incredibly funny, even more so that Aziz, IMO. The fact that they only want to showcase the person who's on a successful TV show instead of two very successful Indian comics is ridiculous.
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  whatthedeuce on Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:58 am

Exactly. Do they think they'll have pretty much the same story just because they're both of Indian descent? What's wrong with highlighting another Indian comic even if they did have a similar story? It's not like Asian comics or actors are so prevalent or anything.


Last edited by whatthedeuce on Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:49 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Morning Angel on Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:03 am

That is a shame. And yeah, he does have a completely different background. Russell Peters grew up in Toronto, and we have a huge Indian community here unlike what Aziz Ansari describes about his upbringing. Russell Peters has had quite a long road of smaller gigs to get to his huge success of the last few years.
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Cynara on Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:48 pm


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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  inversed on Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:34 am

When big-name white actors take roles that should be going to people of color, it makes me think less of them. I mean, it's not like Christian Bale is desperate for work and has to take what he can get.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Kiran on Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:34 am

Yeah same. Like I love Christian Bale, despite him giving us much evidence he is an ass, but you know...he is not coming of well here.

Neither is Joel Edgerton who also like and basically said he cant get choosy with parts. Really Joel. Really. You hurting?

Another example is Carey Mulligan whom I generally really like but I've always side eyed since finding out that the role in Drive was written as Latina and she went and convinced the director to make it white so she could do it. Its not even that they do it maliciously. They don't. Its just another example of white privilege. Because Carey Mulligan has never been in the position that say someone like Salma Hayek has been in. Salma Hayek is much more talented then she is given credit for, is an Oscar nominee who has had to fight for and produce almost every substantial role she's been given, and now does crappy but well paying comedies so she can produce other work for other actors of color (seriously y'all Salma needs to be given more credit, she married well and does shitty Sandler comedies but when you look at her production work its like...wow). Ergo, Carey Mulligan doesn't understand what a slap in the face it is to have one of the few interesting roles in that type of movie changed to be given to a white actress. The same way that Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton don't realize how damaging it is to say "well but they asked me so...."
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Carrie Ann on Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:24 pm

That's why the Dr. Strange thing has me throwing a little extra side-eye at Cumberbatch. So many people are like, "Ooooh noooo, don't blame Banderscoot Cucumbersauce! It's ______'s fault!" Welllll...you are allowed to say no. And when it's your second time doing something like this, especially when you are now firmly established in Hollywood, you know, you make your choices. And yeah, if BC said no to Khan and no to Dr. Strange, they might have just gone to the next white weirdo instead, but that doesn't mean you're absolved. It's not something that makes me write someone off, but it is a situation where I start to wonder about them.
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  blixie on Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:29 pm

I thought Edgerton came off much much better than Bale. Ironically the Buzzfeed review points out that Edgerton isn't a big enough name to justify Scott's rational that he *had* to cast name white actors to justify his big budget extravaganza, which makes no sense since hiring names is only gonna make your big budget...bigger.

I'm not *as* mad at actors for taking the parts (they are generally wildly narcissistic) as at producers and directors for creating this bullshit racial (and gender) disparities situation in the first place. Refn didn't have to, and should not have given that part to Mulligan, it wasn't even THAT great a part on paper. It would though, be great if more big names were circumspect about taking these roles, and indeed flatly turned them down.  I'd love it if like Zach Galifinakis with Nike that they actually take the meeting and call them out on the sheer bullshit of such blantant white washing like Kahn and Exodus. In what universe does Ancient Egypytian Prince Ramses look like Joel Edgerton, and the Pharoah like an Italian in guyliner?

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Kiran on Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:44 pm

I agree with you about the Khan situation, but Dr. Strange in the comics was white. Like, they were never not going to cast that as not white. It would have been great to get a minority in the role, but it wasn't white washing to me.

And I agree ultimately its the directors/producers responsibility.
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  whatthedeuce on Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:16 pm

Ridley Scott should be a political ambassador or something. Geez, he basically said actors of color can't draw big budgets. Thanks for helping perpetuate that reality, buddy, by casting a bunch of white people in all the major roles amongst a cast of people of color in secondary and tertiary roles.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Snarryfan on Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:27 pm

The issue with Exodus wasn't just that they cast white actors (although, really, in all of Hollywood you couldn't find one member of the tribe to tell the story of the Old Testament?) but that they cast actors of color in servant roles. If Ridley Scott needed someone bankable for the funding then, ok, cast Christian Bale...but then the actors in supporting (but not subservient) roles can be of various races/ethnicities. It isn't like Moses and Ramses should look alike!

The Angelina/Cleopatra thing is a bit more complicated since Cleopatra was Greek--the main issue is why? Why tempt fate by remaking that bomb.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  naughty zoot on Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:38 pm

The Angelina/Cleopatra thing is a bit more complicated since Cleopatra was Greek--the main issue is why? Why tempt fate by remaking that bomb. wrote:
I can absolutely see Angie considering herself the current day Elizabeth Taylor, minus the jewels and a few husbands.
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  bookworm on Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:43 pm

The Cleopatra role seems less about race and more about a high powered star wanting to try and leave their mark on a famous role.  The Exodus thing is so stupid.  You have award winning people of color in Hollywood.  If you were determined for Ramses and Moses to be Edgerton and Bale, why not cast the other big roles differently?  Pharoahs had concubines, right?  Moses' mom could have looked different from Ramses, and it wouldn't have killed them to have some actual Israelis play more roles.
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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  puddingcup on Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:27 pm

I know a lot of people here don't like Lainey, but I often appreciate her comments on race and ethnicity issues in Hollywood. This particular post, that links the leaked Pascal-Rudin emails about Obama, with the Exodus casting problem and similar, and Chris Rock's comments on Kevin Hart vs Jon Stewart - is right on for me. These are the people in charge of making the movies.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  QueenSix on Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:58 pm

The Exodus thing is really pissing me off because as soon as I saw the trailer, I was boggling at the amount of bronzer they were putting on Joel Edgerton, never mind Christian Bale. If it's that obvious, your casting is way off.

And it pisses me off too because the Moses/Ramses story is a great story and I don't mean just biblically. It's dramatic, it's someone finding out who they really are, finding their destiny, going up against the establishment to help people get home when the establishment turns out to be your brother, and all that comes out of that. It's the kind of thing you might find a variation of on HBO at some point and everyone says how great it is and gives it all the Emmy Awards. It's just waiting to be told on-screen in a big way.
And what do they do? They go hire two of the whitest actors you can find to play characters from fecking Egypt which is ridiculous.

I know that the movie making world is completely removed from any logic and is all about the bottom line but it still grates on me that these kinds of decisions are being made and that people think that they can make casting decisions like this. If I'm still side eyeing Hollywood for casting Julia Roberts as Kitty Kiernan in the Michael Collins movie and inflicting that godawful Irish accent on the country, you'd better believe I'm side-eyeing them for this.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Agent Sculder on Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:09 pm

bookworm wrote:The Cleopatra role seems less about race and more about a high powered star wanting to try and leave their mark on a famous role.  The Exodus thing is so stupid.  You have award winning people of color in Hollywood.  If you were determined for Ramses and Moses to be Edgerton and Bale, why not cast the other big roles differently?  Pharoahs had concubines, right?  Moses' mom could have looked different from Ramses, and it wouldn't have killed them to have some actual Israelis play more roles.

To me what rings so false about Exodus is that they needed to cast white men in BOTH lead roles. I totally understand that to get a biblical epic made a studio is going to insist on a ginormous movies star as the lead. That makes sense. Christian Bale is a huge star, Joel Edgerton (whose work I like a lot) is not. There's no reason why a more ethnically appropriate actor couldn't have been cast as Ramses.

Cleopatra is a different story. She was white, and if someone is going to make a movie about her, it would be fine for her to be played by a white actress. However, if someone wanted to make a movie about Nefertiti with a white actress in that part I would be really pissed off.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  eco on Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:14 pm

naughty zoot wrote:
I can absolutely see Angie considering herself the current day Elizabeth Taylor, minus the jewels and a few husbands.
Considering that Angelina Jolie darkened her skin and frizzed her hair to play Mariane Pearl in A MIGHTY HEART (although supposedly Pearl *wanted* Angie to play her), I think she plays whoever she wants to play, historically/racially accurate/plausible or not.

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Re: Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood

Post  Kiran on Sat Dec 20, 2014 6:22 pm

Her character in wanted was also originally modelled on Halle Berry in the comics.

I like Angelina, I just think it's such a widespread issue.
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