"It’s not so much about the Oscars; that’s aiming small.
Diversity isn’t a hashtag in my life. It is my life. And it’s something that
I know people of color talk about all the time. It’s not just a hot topic.”
- Viola Davis (from here)
It was disappointing to see how white the Oscars was, but sadly it wasn't a surprise at all. Whiteness has always been a dominating trend in the film industry; it is not sudden news that people of color are rarely represented truthfully on screen nor are they offered the same opportunities to be great and successful while staying true to who they are. But I think there's power in us audiences in changing this trend and raising awareness is a great first step. All this being said, I recently came across What It's Really Like to Work in Hollywood If You're Not a Straight White Man on New York Times and felt like it's completely worth reading and sharing some of the ones that stood out to me here...
- "I had just won a top award at Sundance, and my manager wanted me to audition for the Latina chubby girl in a pilot. She wasn’t even the lead; she was just the sidekick, with the same joke in every scene. I said, “I’m not going in for that.” When I ultimately left him, he told another of my reps, “Somebody should tell that girl that she has an unrealistic idea of what she can accomplish in this industry.” That was someone I was paying to represent me." - AMERICA FERRERA
- ”[In a mid-1990s] meeting, I was determined the lead [for a film] would be a black woman, and I remember the executive saying, “Why does she have to be black?” And me saying: “She doesn’t have to be; I want her to be black. Why would you not consider it?” It was stunning that they were so comfortable [saying that] to a person of color. That was the most painful, that casual disregard for my experience. - JOHN RIDLEY
- "With my first film [“Better Luck Tomorrow”], I was working three jobs [to help pay for it]. I was meeting with potential investors, and right away everybody’s like, “It’s an Asian-American cast. It’ll never sell.” And a lot of them were Asian-American investors. A guy offered $1 million for the budget, and he said, “We’ll get Macaulay Culkin to be the lead.” If I would have said yes, I would have gotten $1 million and I would have gotten to make the movie with a white cast, but it didn’t interest me." - JUSTIN LIN
- "I didn’t speak Spanish [growing up]. I’m ninth generation. I mean, I’m as American as apple pie. I’m very proud of my heritage. But I remember moving to L.A. and auditioning and not being Latin enough for certain roles. Some white male casting director was dictating what it meant to be Latin. He decided I needed an accent. He decided I should [have] darker-colored skin. The gatekeepers are not usually people of color, so they don’t understand you should be looking for way more colors of the rainbow within that one ethnicity." - EVA LONGORIA
- "My very first audition ever, I was about 16, and the casting director for a commercial said, “Can you do it again but sound more Latino?” I had no idea what she was talking about. “You mean you want me to speak in Spanish?” She’s like: “No. Do it in English but just sound more Latino.” I genuinely didn’t realize until later that she was asking me to speak English with a broken accent. It confused me, because I thought, I am Latino, so isn’t this what a Latino sounds like? From the get-go of my career I thought, There’s a certain box or a certain way that you’re seen, which I didn’t feel growing up." - AMERICA FERRERA
- "My personality and that of other women I know is to want to please. It can sometimes feel alien to just say, “I need this to happen, because it’s my show,” and not feel afterward that you’ve been unprofessional simply by stating the thing that you want. I struggle with it all the time. When you are a minority, and it’s the first time you’ve done something, you’re like, this could all be taken away from me. I think the presumption with women is that they will be team players, and that is not the presumption of men. Especially show runners. When women push back, they are perceived as bitches or divas. I just made a slight demand that wasn’t even that bad. And at the end of it, I’ll send bagels to the staff. Please forgive me for asserting myself in a small way." - MINDY KALING
- ”I do feel extremely proud when I have people of the South Asian community coming up to me and saying, thankfully we’re seeing a nonstereotyped Indian. At an event, I remember this girl hugged me and started crying. She said, “Thank you for making us relevant.” It gives me goose bumps every time I think about it." - PRIYANKA CHOPRA