Quoted: Julian Fellowes on Downton Abbey’s first Black role

Gary Carr on Downton Abbey via. Mail.co.uk

Downton Abbey boss Julian Fellowes has slammed the depiction of black actors in TV. The writer said the first black face in the ITV period drama will instead be very much a positive role model.

Jazz singer Jack Ross, played by Gary Carr, makes his debut in the fourth series which hits our screens next month.

And Julian, 64, said: “I was very keen he should be a positive character. I feel this quite strongly. So many black characters in TV drama are victims and things are not going well for them. Even when they’re positive, even when they’re sympathetic, everything’s terrible. I feel for black young men and women. It’s very important that you see people on the screen who are not victims. This guy is not a victim. He is a very successful entertainer, a very positive guy, very attractive, and there’s no negative side, and that was important to me.”

— “Downton Abbey Creator Julian Fellows Slams Depiction of Black Actors on TV,” The Mirror UK, September 6, 2013

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  • nicthommi

    Yeah, I’m sure it will be “positive”…somehow, “positive” depictions of black men usually involve them being granted the “privilege” of romancing white female characters. B/c no one wants to show black men who actually like and respect black women. Nope, the surest sign of knowing you have arrived is getting to sleep with a white woman. Since Downtown Abbey is a period piece and anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of history knows what being black meant then, and in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, (and let’s be honest, even now), then I actually don’t want to see that minimized or trivialized. We’ve always been allowed to entertain rich white people in fancy spaces, but we had to leave through the back door, couldn’t be served dinner, and certainly could not date the customers.
    I read how some of those early black actresses married white men in secret and read a quote by someone who thought it would help them cross the color line, and also how the tragic Dorothy Dandridge was hurt b/c I think she was Otto Preminger’s dirty little secret.
    So I personally am not looking forward to this at ALL.

    • Miche

      From what I understand, she and Otto talked about marriage, but someone may have told him that marrying Dorothy was not a good move. I also read that that Lena Horne married a white man and kept her marriage a secret for 3 years and she admitted in an interview with Ebony magazine that part of the reason she married him was to advance her career and cross the “color-line” in show business, even though she learned to love him in the long run.
      Whenever I hear about “positive” depictions of Blacks, I always give it a side eye. The question is: Positive to whom?

      • nicthommi

        Yes, it was Lena Horne I was thinking of. Thanks, that was the example I was trying to remember.
        I don’t think it’s ever really positive to us…it makes them feel as though they are being open-minded and not racist (b/c you know, that is SO much more unpleasant than actual racism), but it still is usually used for things like reinforcing the white beauty standard.