It’s no secret that in film and television, people are type cast based on their appearance and previous success in those roles. However, some of these roles do not necessarily allow for actors to show all they can do and in some cases does not allow for them to be taken seriously as an actor or actress. I went on set as a background extra and for sake of privacy, I will not use the names of the people I talked to or the name of the production.
When I arrived on set, I was amazed at all the people I saw of color. Initially, i thought it was great! there were so many people of color with jobs, and that aspect of this shoot was definitely great. When I got to talking to people, a large amount of them told me they felt uncomfortable in the clothes they had to wear and the roles they were there to play. Then for me, the question came up of what they were doing there and if they knew that would happen.
I sat with one girl and talked to her about her experiences as an actress. She told me that she always got cast as someone meant to act or be ghetto, as a chola. She told me she never got the calls for any serious roles and she thought that no one would take her seriously. She had done a lot of background and took part in some bigger roles, but they were all the same. She said that she didn’t feel like she had ever been given the opportunity to show what else she could do because she was being type cast.
It sucks when actors and actresses are serious about what they are doing and want the roles to show that but don’t get the opportunity because the roles “aren’t written for them”. It’s not that roles are not suitable for people of color, rather that they are not getting cast. I cannot be entirely sure why, but people of color should not be excluded because of the color of their skin, if they are a good actor or actress, they should be considered for the role regardless of skin color. This just adds to the notion that people of color have to try twice as hard to get to where they want to be. It is understandable that for something like a family show, there may need to be a consistency in skin tone within the family so that they look like they belong as a family, but there is no reason that diversity cannot exist in shows where ethnicity doesn’t matter.
That being said, things are getting better. People like Shonda Rhimes initiate blind casting which allows for a lot of diversity in television shows, and I am excited to see more of it. I’m ready to see what the future has in store as far as diversity in film and television goes in casting and in the people working in film.