The Fairy Princess is recovering from the joy of seeing that Dallas Summer Musicals has cast the very talented Alan Ariano in the role of The King in their production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s The King & I. She was also thrilled to see that the Broadway Cast of the same show has wound up in Vogue Magazine, and that Anna Wintour is rumored to be taking over the Red Carpet of the TONY Awards so that everyone stops wearing a dress ripped from The Little Mermaid and puts on a damn eyelash!
These are good things and must be celebrated accordingly.
Then she read this article from Hollywood Deadline which yes, ‘reports’ Insider industry news, but in this case has forgone actual facts and gave us instead, a fearful Zombie Apocolypse “What if“, should projects like EMPIRE continue to decimate all others on the television and cable landscape and leak it’s considerable influence into pilot season.
Apparently the writer at Hollywood Deadline is concerned about all these pesky minority actors getting opportunity.
In fact, the writer of this, Nellie Andreeva, is so concerned about minorities booking jobs on television shows, she is so fearful of the result this may have on , well, I guess on ‘the children‘, everyone is always worried about ‘the children’ right?, that she has manufactured her own ‘backlash’ with the ridiculous question – has Hollywood in pilot season ‘gone too far‘ in casting minorities during Pilot season?
“The TV and film superhero ranks have been overly white for too long, workplace shows should be diverse to reflect workplace in real America, and ethnic actors should get a chance to play more than the proverbial best friend or boss.
But replacing one set of rigid rules with another by imposing a quota of ethnic talent on each show might not be the answer. Empire, Black-ish, Jane the Virgin and Fresh Off The Boat have been breakouts because they represent worlds and points of view that were not on TV‘
Hmmm. So what you are saying is that now that there is Jane The Virgin, the television landscape is full and we no longer have a need for a world with Latinos on our screens?
Did anyone else get a little ‘privilege’ in their eye, or was that just The Fairy Princess?
I don’t think so.
First of all, the logic here is faulty – Networks are not casting more creatively because Cookie Lyon needs a friend with a fabulous hat and four inch heels on another network – they are casting that way because the world in which we live, in America, is colorful. As TFP has often said, and which is backed by actual numbers – Diversity equals Dollars!
Producers are not sitting around trying to think “Hey, how can I cast a show that totally will not find an audience and will waste everyone’s time and money” – No, they are not. They are trying to make shows that sell. Television is the one place in the world where ‘trickle down’ theory works (perhaps that is where President Regan got it, when he was President of SAG) does not work economically, but in showbiz? Yeah, it works.
In the long history of Television in America, they have always, always done the exact same thing – they look at what is on television that is finding an audience, pulling in revenue, and entertaining people and then they toddle along and try to do that same thing. That #TGIT is making everyone wake up to the reality that there are strong Actresses of Color who can anchor a show and keep viewers coming back week after week with smart, snappy dialogue, and complex plot lines is a great thing. That this investment in opening minds is the brainchild, essentially, of one woman, Shonda Rhimes, is staggering.
The fact that Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling have two of the most successful and talked about comedies available to watch is mind blowing. That Maurissa Tancharoen Whedon has successfully rewritten the narrative of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to include an expanded possibility of what it means to be seen as a Hero in America, is nothing short of amazing. The Gender Gap that was so prevalent behind the camera in the creation of shows is not fixed, not by a LONG shot, but the successes of it cannot be argued with it. Nanatchka Khan has created a number one network comedy with Fresh Off The Boat – have any of their shows ‘suffered’ by waving the banner of diversity?
Looking, Orange Is The New Black, Devious Maids all yes, meet a ‘demographic’ audience, but they surpass what is expected – because when there are multiple actors who can pull from varying life experiences, it gives the writers that much more to work with.
One could even argue that these shows are not waving any banner at all – they just cast wider, they looked further than the ‘status quo’ – they looked to the world.
NCIS was successful, so now we have one in every damn city except Poughkeepsie…and that is probably coming if Mark Harmon gets a summer house there. The joy in this for ethnic performers is that they can finally have a Pilot Season flush with auditions just like less pigmented friends!
‘You booked a Pilot? Hey wait, ME TOO! – HIGH FIVE!”
Actors do not live in a bubble of privilege unless they are a child of celebrities – Actors are out there, seeing plays, supporting friends, making connections – and they get, sorry ‘we’ get, that the world is made up of supremely talented people – people who through career longevity and talent should get that moment of peace that being on a television show will give them artistically, which will have a ripple effect to their career, and that skin color has nothing to do with talent.
If you are an API Woman you will get called in for a hooker at least once in your career, to a cop show, because they are going to do the classic variant of ‘a brothel in Chinatown’ story that shows up on EVERY cop show. If you are Latino, you are going to be called for a Gang Member at some point in your career – why? Because that same Cop Show has a Latino Gang episode.
You may meet the API Hooker in the hallway of the audition and you kind of give each other a ‘Hey, what’s up” – because you both know why you are there – you are there to up the ‘Diversity Numbers’ for that particular show so that the Producers do not have to have ‘a conversation’ about Diversity on their show set in a major city with no Ethnic Main characters, even though the city in which the show is set, has large ethnic populations.
Or that is the way it has been.
However it seems that THIS pilot season…things are changing!
There is a clause in the SAG Contract that the Producers sign about this very issue – it is worded that the Producers, in getting the permission from SAG/AFTRA to produce this show, that THEY agree to ‘reflect the American scene’, which is what they are finally doing!
Casting is an art – if it is done well, as most Directors can tell you, they do not have to do much ‘heavy lifting’ at all. Some of the most successful shows on television right now – ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat, Fox’s Empire, CBS’s Elementary demonstrate that bringing Casts together of different experiences and backgrounds enhances the ability to tell compelling stories. Also, according to Scientific American, Diversity makes you smarter!
But you do not have to take TFP’s word for it, we can look at what people ON TV RIGHT NOW IN HIT SHOWS are saying:
For example, Constance Wu, when interviewed by TIME said:
It’s important to see Asians in those leading roles because it changes what I’m calling the anglo-heteronormative status of TV. [Imagine] that a producer says, “Guy and girl meet-cute at an ice skating rink. They fall in love, but then she has to move away.” If you say that to anyone, including an Asian person, you picture a white person because that’s what’s become normative to us.
She seems pretty smart…and if you do not think so, may TFP ask you when the last time you used the word “Anglo-heteronormative’?
There are of course, shows that exist ‘within a world’ that is, for all intents and purposes, Caucasian – AMC’s MAD MEN for example, but MAD MEN is wrestling with specific time period and the inclusion of women in the workplace and the change in America at the time. There are many, MANY more shows that exist within a Caucasian world than there are within the America we all actually live in – so to write –
“ABC’s medical drama pilot The Advocate was based on the story of former CAA agent Byrdie Lifson-Pompan and Dr. Valerie Ulene, who launched a healthcare consulting company. While the real-life inspiration for the two central character are both Caucasian, the show cast them with one white actress, Kim Raver, and one black, Joy Bryant’
Oh, it’s not?
You want to get into a discussion about WHITEWASHING ETHNIC PEOPLE OUT OF ROLES BY HOLLYWOOD NOW
You want TFP to keep going or should we just let the Spirit of Bruce Lee smack you in the head, Ms. Andreeva?
There is NO WAY that out of the HUNDREDS of pilots being shot, the casting of a small percentage of minority actors IN ANY WAY imperiles the status quo of white privilege in this country we know as America. Casting some people of color and gender and sexual preference on one or two televisions pilots that may or may not be picked up for broadcast will IN NO WAY harm Caucasian people in this country looking to turn on the television and see reflections of themselves.
Because television is run by Caucasian people!
See all the Presidents…look close, can ya see what TFP is talking about?
They don’t look like they are leaving anytime soon, now, do they?
(Also, Gentlemen and Lady, thank you, sincerely, for shaking up your Pilot seasons and diversifying, congratulations on that)
Which you should know, because DEADLINE actually published the UCLA Diversity Report ! A report that shows among other things:
1. Minority actors are underrepresented in film by a percentage of 3:1
2. Women are underrepresented in lead roles in a film by a factor of 2:1
3. More than 1/2 of the films had 10% OR LESS casting of Minority Actors
4. Minorities amongst Film Directors are underrepresented 3:1
5. Minorities are underrepresented among Writers by 5:1
6. In Television, Minorities in LEAD Roles are underrepresented 7:1
7. In Television, Minorities are, 7:1 more likely to be leads on REALITY SHOWS than Network shows (thanks Top Chef)
8. Minorities are underrepresented by a factor of 9:1 in creating Broadcast Comedies and Dramas
9. Women are underrepresented by a factor of 2:1 in creating Broadcast Comedies and Dramas, and are ‘less likely’ to be creators on Cable
10. Dominant Talent Agencies contribute little to Broadcast Television Diversity
So you can relax, Ms. Andreeva…’Mount HollywoodLand” is for the most part safe from these pesky hordes of creative people whose skin shade is not alabaster, who have feelings and talent and ambition and the will to use them – for the most part….in the grander scale of things…white television is safe, and will be for a long, long time.
TFP is sure you will sleep better at night, on your lvory pillow, wrapped in a blanket of Caucasian condescension within the fortress of solitude that the internet firewalls provide, so you do not have to interact with the peasants and dream on, Ms. Andreeva….
“We‘ of the minorities are not ‘coming for your TV“, we would just like to expand the meaning of what it means to see and be seen, and ‘we’ would like to book a pilot because for an Actor, it can be life changing. It can provide a bit of financial security, health insurance, and opportunity to continue on in a life of creation.
It has nothing to do with which way your pendulum swings….we have a broad definition of inclusiveness, in that we, of the minorities (which include people of age, sexual preference, color, women, differing physical abilities) would like to be seen in this country, and television is the best way to do that.
For stirring up racial panic in the midst of what looks to be a good Pilot season for Minorities, TFP fines you 35 whacks of the wand – you invoked racial fear to write a column that had no statistics to back it up, just a general sense of warning to show runners not to get ‘carried away’ with this pesky “People of Color” thing – and that is wrong. Flat out wrong. TFP read your article and was not going to say anything, because it was so poorly substantiated, but then she thought “what if someone actually takes you seriously?” and then she thought
Not only is it wrong, it is disheartening when there is good news, to have someone who has a national platform to discuss these issues, choose to come down to “Boogie Man’ threats that get in the way of progress.
You should be ashamed of yourself.
TFP is thrilled that Pilot Season is getting with the program of inclusion – it makes us all better – what you did, was to try and make it worse.
Also, KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE!