‘For viewers like you?’


Recently,  Viola Davis became the first African American actress to win an Emmy in the drama category. In her noteworthy speech she said, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You can’t win an Emmy for roles that simply are not there.”

According to the 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report made by the Bunche Center at UCLA, minorities only claimed 10.5 percent of the lead roles in film compared to the 89.5 percent white people had in the 172 films examined.

Junior Kennedy Davis, active thespian and aspiring actress, said that prejudice plays a huge part in the lack of non-white roles.

“Apparently in America, they feel blacks are inferior to whites and so you see mostly white people getting roles,” she said.

English teacher and theatre director J.R. Rose said Hollywood is catering to the masses.

“I think that studio executives and people putting up the money are looking at what the mainstream audience is so there are more white stories and roles because box offices are trending in that way,” Rose said. “There needs to be a whole sea change of the way Hollywood looks at the stories they are telling and who’s telling them.”

Junior Lauren Torian said there needs to be more people in front of the camera, as well as manning it.

“I wish there were not only more people of color as actors but as writers, casting directors and people behind the cameras,” Torian said.

In 2011, 92.4 percent of films are written and told by white people.

Davis has plans to make a positive impact for both African-American people and Hollywood.

“I am in play writing and directing so I am going to change that percentage,” she said. “I plan to become like Tyler Perry because he is very well known and well respected in the industry.”

Torian believes Hollywood values looks more than the ability to play the part.

“Hollywood is all about looks so often times there will be people probably better suited for the job but they don’t look the part, so they won’t get the role,” she said.

“Whitewashing,” is leaving behind or neglecting their culture and assimilating to a white, western culture.

Movies such as the 1963 classic Cleopatra, or more recently the 2014 Exodus: Gods and Kings, both based in Egypt, were accused of ‘‘Whitewashing” main characters.

Davis said that some casting directors have the power to cast befittingly but they chose not to.

“Africans have and will always be black. I understand if someone didn’t earn the role, don’t give it to them, but you couldn’t find anyone in this gigantic world that was black and talented to play the role?”
Rose said that the media is attempting to involve a more diverse selection of actors but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“I think roles for people of color are few and far in between. I think that in the last 10 years, Hollywood has made great strides in there being more prominent roles for people of color. I still think there’s a long way to go.”