The Fairy Princess had a pretty busy week, and she has a busy week ahead. For those who read my blog regularly, yes, I am working on something in regards to performing PACIFIC OVERTURES without Asians in the show, however, it will take a bit of time, and you will have to wait a bit on that – although she is hoping when it is published, it will stand as a ‘definitive’ post on P.O.
However, just because you do not hear from The Fairy Princess all the time, does not mean that she is not fluttering about, paying attention to various things.
And when one pays attention, they can get their wings a bit bent, and that is what happened when she read this article in the LA Times by Betsy Sharkey on ’30 Actors Under 30 Who Matter”.
What The Fairy Princess noticed most on this list was that when it comes to ‘who matters’, the answer is quite clear – blondes. In fact, of all the women on this list – 17 in total, only 4 are brunettes. Only one, Hailee Steinfeld, is ‘ethnic’, she is Eurasian. There are no Latinos or Latinas on this list – at all. Two African American men. No African American women. One South Asian man.
To be fair, writer Betsy Sharkey acknowledges that her ‘list’ is ‘whiter than I would like“ because of “Hollywood’s continued bad casting habits‘, however by titling those listed as the ones ‘who matter’, Ms. Sharkey is contributing to the problem, not helping solve it.
While we can all acknowledge that television is leading the way in bringing Diversity to our screens, Indie film falls sadly behind. This is due of course, to most Indie films that make it to the big screens being written and directed by Caucasian males – and a large majority of them are based on some sort of retrospective of the writer/director’s life as a coming of age young man. Apparently they all lived in some generic American town that was quirky in the extreme and they were bereft of even a token ethnic friend, (which could be in part why they left), but really…who knows?
Bland upbringing means blonde casting. If they want the female lead to have depth, she is a blond with roots or a light haired brunette. She is wry, quirky, self-deprecating, but as this list points out, she is startlingly similar to the last Indie darling found by the last hailed Indie genius.
What is ‘wrong’ with this list is not, in fact, that these Actors are working, but that they are being held up in a way that Actors of Color are not – which takes an already un-level playing field and tilts it even further away from Diversity towards a very specific look.
Should Indie films continue their ‘all look same’ policy, the breadth of stories being told will become far narrower, their appeal far less, and all in all – it will contribute to the decline of Indie film as a place to go for exciting stories – after all, how many ‘coming of age gawky teen films full of desire for the cheerleader AND the ‘alt’ girl‘ are we, the general public supposed to swallow? We can only be sidetracked by their wearing some sort of superhero or 1970’s garb for so long before we realize they are, indeed, all looking and sounding quite similar.
What is happening to you, Indie Filmmakers? Why so bland?
May The Fairy Princess make a suggestion? Do not just ‘write what you know“, write what you can imagine. SEE people, SEE that stories come in all shades and sizes, and that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, but in how the DP lights you. If you cannot cast your film with a Person of Color in a major role or large supporting, then perhaps you should look to another profession – because the art of cinema is in how you visually paint your palette – and if there are no other colors, what are you painting exactly?
It was not that long ago that Indie film was where people looked to see diverse stories – let us remember America Ferrara, who starred in the breakout film, Real Women Have Curves – which was directed by Patricia Cordoso and written by Josefina Lopez and George LaVoo in 2002. Ms. Ferrara has had a great career in television and voice over since then. Her success in Indie film helped changed the television landscape with the show, Ugly Betty.
Another was Gabourey Sidibe who starred in Precious, which was directed by Lee Daniels, based on a book by Sapphire in 2009. She too, has gone on to a successful career in film and television.
Or the Cast of Better Luck Tomorrow, directed by Justin Lin, in 2002. All still working.
2002 was a good year for Diversity in Indie Film. It is now 2014 – and now, we have this list to tell us who are the ‘breakout’ stars for this new generation, and it includes no Latins and no Black women.
Diversity behind the camera, brings Diversity to the camera.
Here’s the truth, The Fairy Princess does not have a problem with any of the Actors on this list, she enjoys their work. TFP does not even have a problem with the writing OF this list, because the list is based on box office and Q ratings and numbers, but the title of the list IS a problem. Because it says that these are the 30 ‘who matter‘, and by inference, anyone not on that list does NOT matter.
So who does ‘not matter’ in show business, which is the subliminal take away from Ms. Sharkey’s article? Latinos, Black Women, Asian Men, South Asian Women, Middle Easterns and most Mixed Raced people.
Those are who do NOT matter.
This list is now in the hands of every Casting Director, Show Runner, Executive, and Aspiring Director as a veritable ‘who’s who’ of how to get your show or film funded, the people on this list are now ‘bankable’, and bankable means green-lit.
This list gives a play by play of how to get your film to the next level of serious consideration and the great thing about it is, as demonstrated, if you cannot get Elle Fanning, you go to Chloe Grace Moretz, and if she passes or is unavailable, and you can bring yourself to even envision a brunette, you could think about offering it to Hailee Steinfeld. If you want super hot but slightly weird you can turn to Ellen Page, and if she is not available there is always Rooney Mara, who managed this year to get cast as a Native American, simply by dint of hair color!
Because she ‘matters’.
That is the danger of this list.
With respect to Ms. Sharkey, she is not ‘responsible’ per se for up and coming actors and who they are or what ethnicity they inhabit. What she is responsible for is the way in which she has them presented. To her credit, when The Fairy Princess tweeted her about the lack of diversity on her list, she responded with a request to be enlightened (something that is presented as open minded while wearing blinders).
The Fairy Princess took it as an honest invitation, but perhaps it was not.
Ms. Sharkey also mentioned via Twitter, and it is worth repeating, that Diversity is more apparent in Actors ages 30 and up, which is somewhat hopeful and yet, appalling. Because she writes about film, and she could not name Diverse Actors in their 20’s.
The Fairy Princess has asked around and has done some research and while she may not get to 30 because of the ‘rules’ of the list – she is limited to rising film stars and not television stars (where it is acknowledged there is growing diversity), she wants to be clear that the Actors and Actresses of Color who are in their 20’s working in film ALSO ‘Matter”.
In fact, they matter more – because they are the .001% of those who have the talent to already be working in the film industry despite their not being a petite blonde whose grew up in show business or the willowy one who can do stunts while being gorgeous and wry. In fact, TFP will allow up to age 30 to be considered for this list because once upon a time, those who just turned 30 were in their 20’s. For some, it may be only moments ago.
These 20 somethings have succeeded in spite of the Industry. If TFP misses anyone who should be considered, please of course, list them in the comments – her hope is that this list too, will become a ‘short list’ of who to go to.
The parameters are again, film – successful and noted Indie films and Blockbuster Hollywood Franchises. Not the short that got you a mention in the Film Festival in your town. Not the grad school film that you appeared in for a copy on DVD. No Youtube ‘stars’ who are ‘famous‘ – just because you have ‘hits’ and money from those hits to live on does not make you an actor or actress of note.
Blockbuster Films and well lauded Indie films are the requirement to be on this list. Future projects are listed, but they are not ‘required’ to be on this list – the requirement is age, and credits.
Anything else would prove the point Ms. Sharkey has unwittingly made – that there are few Diverse actors to choose from when making film, and we all know that is NOT true in the slightest.
The Fairy Princess pulled from the world wide web, her memory, and friends to make sure she had options, so come with her now and see how she did….
Well heavens, The Fairy Princess made it to a list of 30!
Now, of course, Dear Reader, this will spark your memory and you will OF COURSE comment on who was left off of this list – AS WELL YOU SHOULD. Let us make the list longer!
One group which she wanted to include was Native Americans, there are quite a few from The Twilight Movies, however – they generally did not have their birth dates listed on IMDB, so The Fairy Princess could not determine – given the parameters of the list – whether or not she could include them on this particular list.
The Fairy Princess did want to let you all know that there is a wonderful list of NA Actors on IMDB, and if you click HERE, you will find it – and Congratulations to them all, TFP was glad to know that there were so many.
The Fairy Princess is not a professional writer who patrols screenings and looks for new talent as part of her job, she is someone who blogs about Diversity and what lack of Diversity does to our culture at large – and this list took her one day to compile.
And, there is NO DOUBT that she could have written more, there is not a doubt that she could have gotten higher than 30, but… she has to go to bed. That is the truth. The Fairy Princess has a toddler who will be awake and chatty at 5:30 am, just as he is EVERY morning, and simply put….she has to call it a day.
However, she wants you to remember, that the next time someone deigns to tell you who or what ‘matters’, that it is clearly something to ignore.
We all matter – whether it is to your Family, your Friends, your Career – YOU matter. Do not let Hollywood and it’s lack of creativity in Casting have any effect on your personal feelings about yourself because The Fairy Princess SEES you, she does, and take it from her – YOU MATTER.
10 smacks with the wand to Ms. Sharkey, who in one fell swoop, managed to push the Hollywood agenda steadily forward, by paying lip service to the problem, but not, in any way, becoming part of the solution.
Dear Ms. Sharkey The Fairy Princess has no idea why your list was so heavily stilted towards blonde actresses…
but she could take a guess.
Let’s do better next time.
Also, please take a look at this new film’s trailer…because we are getting restless, and when we do, we People of Color, we get funny….