Tag Archives: casting

Gotham Show Files

Blackface by Another Name? “Painting Down” on Gotham

The issues for people of color in Hollywood run deep – so much so that we occasionally forget how invested the industry can be in denying opportunities to enter this business.

Jada Pinkett Smith landed a coveted role on the show as Fish Mooney, a female mob leader:

GOTHAM: Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney in the "Selina Kyle" episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, Sept. 29 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jessica Miglio/FOX

So we have a black woman on screen in a major role. But what is happening behind the scenes? Are people of color being represented in other parts of the industry, like doing stunt work? Not so, according to Deadline Hollywood:

After receiving inquiries from Deadline, Warner Bros. has canceled plans to “paint down” a white stunt woman to double for a black actress on its hit Fox show Gotham. On Monday, dark makeup was applied to the face of a white stunt woman in a hair and makeup test in advance of two days of filming next week in New York. After receiving calls from Deadline, WB initially downplayed the significance of the story, but after looking into it said that it had made a “mistake” and would hire a black stunt woman instead.

Really? Continue reading

Check it out: United Colors of Amani

Amani Starnes’ new web series centers on what it’s like to be an “ethnically ambiguous” actress in Hollywood and the recipient of a host of stereotypes and biases. Starnes writes that she has “dealt with the ‘What are you?’ question her whole life. But what does it mean to be black, white, and everything in between as she navigates the entertainment industry and life in LA? The United Colors of Amani, a comedy with sociological undertones, sheds light on the uncomfortable, awkward, and outrageous constructions of race permeating showbiz.”

Episode 1: The Tryout

Race + Theatre: On The Tony Awards 2013

Theatre Diversity Gap infographic

• On New York City stages during the 2011–2012 season, African American actors were cast in 16% of all roles, Latino actors in 3%, Asian American actors in 3%, and other minorities comprised 1%. Caucasian actors filled 77% of all roles. Caucasians continue to be the only ethnicity to over-represent compared to their respective population size in New York City or the Tri-State area.

• The percentage of minority actors rose to 23% this past year, a 2% increase from the year prior. While a significant jump, this level is fairly consistent with levels of minority representation which have consistently remained within the low twenty percent range. The last time representation hit 23% was during the 2007/08 season.

• African American actors increased by 2% compared to last season.

• Latino actors remained at 3% for the third straight year in a row.

• Asian American actors increased slightly from 2% to 3% this past season.

• Only 10% of all roles played by minority actors were non-traditionally cast. This remains the same as last season.

• African Americans were far more likely than any other minority to be cast in roles which were not defined by their race.

• For the second year in a row, the not-for-profit sector lagged far behind the commercial sector when it came to hiring minorities. The opposite was true in the four years preceding this shift, where actors of color were once more likely to find employment within the not-for-profit sector. While total number of minority actors in this sector increased by 3% from 19% the year prior, this is still far below the industry average and is the second year in a row that minority employment among the not-for-profit companies fell below 20%.

• This past season, African Americans and Latinos on non-profit stages increased 1% and 2%, respectively. Asian American actors, however, have been at their lowest point, 2%, for three years in a row now. This is a substantial drop from where they were six and five years ago (4% and 7%, respectively).

“Where’s The Diversity? The Tony Awards Look In The Mirror” by Jason Low of LeeandLow.com, June 6, 2013

Read the full report from the Asian American Performers Action Coalition here. We have the list of last night’s individual winners (performers) of color under the cut. Black actors and actresses, at least, had a good showing in top categories, but four wins can’t negate the facts.

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Pilot Season 2013-2014

By Kendra James

Last year, around this time, I was nursing far too high expectations for a little pilot season pickup called Deception. This year I’m just really glad it’s been cancelled so that the actors involved can escape with some dignity intact. One can’t say the same about Community.

Yeah, it’s that time again. Most networks are at least 80% set with their 2013-2014 Fall/Winter lineups. For better worse you will be sitting through another season of potentially Harmon-less Community. As Abed might say, some stations just like to watch the world burn.

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Casting Watch: McG’s Venice-Based Romeo And Juliet Reboot

Spotted the new McG project on Deadline Hollywood:

The untitled drama, which echoes the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, revolves around the haves and have-nots of California’s most seductive cities, Venice. It focuses on two rival families and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the two families battle for control of Venice.

Curious, I checked the demographics of Venice on Wikipedia. Most recent data was from 2008:

The racial and ethnic composition in Venice is White (63.9%), Latino (22.2%), African American (5.6%), Asian (3.7%), and Other (4.6%).[5]

I suppose we can hope for inclusive casting, though we should be prepared for disappointment. Maybe this time, an interracial love story might even include a kiss.

On Our Radar: Upcoming Shows And Hollywood News

The Mindy Project is coming! The trailer is here:

So far, I am excited about the writing, and it’s great time slot (post-New Girl); not so excited about the default casting choices thus far. Mindy’s in yet another world where the main characters are white and the people of color are backgrounds, extra, or sassy moments of funny. Hopefully, Mindy makes that a part of the plot, instead of yet another oversight–but the Collider interview makes me think that isn’t going to happen. [Wetpaint, Collider]

I loved, loved, loved Gabrielle Union’s weed-smoking, video game-playing real estate agent in Think Like a Man, but she only had a few moments to shine. Now, she’s got a new show called Being Mary Jane, exploring a successful black television anchor with a less successful lovelife. Sounds promising, but this kind of show is all about the execution. [Shadow & Act, Ebony]

The CW is developing a series on Battle Royale. Yes, we already called Racebending. And they are not going in a direction that could get them banned from TV, which means we should all blow the dust off our DVDs. Also in the news set: Ringer is done, but Sarah Michelle Gellar is welcome to stay with the network. [Deadline Hollywood]

And: John Leguizamo is back with a new TV pilot called Only Fools and Horses. [Deadline] Chris Rock and Deshawn Raw team up for a sketch comedy series. [Shadow and Act] Nelsan Ellis (b.k.a. Lafayette from True Blood) is set to play MLK in Lee Daniels new film The Butler. [Deadline Hollywood] Women and Hollywood posted a great interview with Aurora Guerrero, the writer/director of Mosquita y Mari. [Women and Hollywood]

Jason Chu On The La Jolla Playhouse Controversy

Lyrics:
I hear “nothing’s more American than immigrating in
“Working hard is more important than the color of your skin”
But if that’s true, why are the faces that look like me
Always involved in takeout, kung fu, or exotic villainy?
I mean, we wear the same clothes and we do the same things
And we talk the same way – but it was never a real dream
For me to be Friends with Rachel, Joey, or Ross
And “Jason Chu” was not the answer to the question, “Who’s the Boss?”
Even on Cheers, where everybody was supposed to know my name
I never heard a Chu, Nguyen, Kim, Loke, or Chang
So I concluded that Asian faces are only right
If we’re talking about rice, or a high-tech device
I mean, I just saw the Dark Knight Rise
And I cheered every time that I saw an Asian face – twice
This is why we don’t win: the systems that we’re in
If we build separate communities, we’re viewed as aliens
But if we try to play along, we have no hope of blending in
They’ll never let John Wayne be played by John Kim
But The Airbender was Noah Ringer, and Goku was Justin Chatwin
And the whole cast of Akira was gonna be played by white men
But I have never seen a role with a European name
Be filled by an Asian with the excuse “we cast for talent, not for race”
So the La Jolla playhouse can say anything they want
In the end, I don’t see action, so I conclude it’s just a front
For the same attitude that I’ve always seen out there
Because “color-blind” is just a nicer way to say “we don’t care”

Background here and here.

Louis C.K. Bucks Casting Trends With Susan Kelechi Watson


Sometimes, I really, really love Louis C.K. He is far from perfect, but he tends to keep things interesting. His bit on “Being White” is one of the top search results when you search his name, and he’s throwing some wrenches into pricing and comedy shows.

Interestingly, as we are dealing with the oh-so-tedious, faux-feminist ideas that criticizing shows like Bunheads and Girls for their lack of diversity is selling out women, Louis C.K. (after tweeting his support of Lena Dunham), decides to exercise his right to cast whoever the hell he wants in his created universe – which resulted in Susan Kelechi Watson being the mother of his children. Huffington Post recaps what was on Jimmy Kimmel:

On “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (Weeknights, 12 a.m. ET on ABC), he was asked about his decision to cast African-American actress Susan Kelechi Watson as his ex-wife and mother of his daughters in Season 3.

C.K. conceded that his TV daughters are “extremely white,” but said that race didn’t really factor into his decision to cast Watson in the role of their mom.

“If the character works for the show, I don’t care about the racial,” the show’s creator, writer, director and star said.

And yet…

Plus, there was another reason he went with a black actress.

To C.K., it’s all about line delivery. “When a black woman tells you to get a job, it’s just more … ” he explained with a laugh.

While my eye did a little twitch at that last bit (can we ever have anything?), Louis C.K.’s decision is a little bit of relief after a long season of whitewashing justifications.