|Issa Rae...with her fine self.|
The great and beautiful Tracy Oliver emailed me this today, and I want to start off with an excerpt before I dive in.
Last night, a few of my castmates -Issa Rae (J), Sujata Day (CeCe), Madison T. Shockley III (Fred), and Tristen Winger (Darius) came to my apartment to shoot a scene for the next "Awkward Black Girl" episode. Hours after we wrapped the shoot, we stayed in my living room passionately discussing the future of "ABG" til 3am. The topic of discussion: Should "ABG" stay on the Web or go to television?
Six months ago, that answer was emphatically television. I distinctly remember sitting in coffee shops with Issa, strategizing ways to reach potential producers, executives, and networks that may be a good fit for "ABG." We were even writing an extensive treatment for the series, visualizing how the characters and storylines could be adapted into a half-hour comedy.
I'll admit it. The prospect of "ABG" on television is enticing. The thought of millions of people sitting around their flat screens watching a weekly version of the show is pretty exciting. The thought of an African-American female lead with dark skin and a short fro starring in a mainstream comedy is downright revolutionary.
The only problem is, we don't live in a perfect world.
Television today often doesn't reflect the beauty in diversity, in front or behind the camera. The numbers of writers and directors of color working in television are dismal. The numbers of female writers and directors of color are even worse. According to a recent DGA study, white males directed 77% of all television episodes for the 2010-2011 season, while women of color directed just 1%.
"Replace" Sujata Day???
When looking at these statistics, the reality of selling "ABG" to a network lends itself to many questions. Who will become the showrunner(s) and will they understand our vision? How many writers of color will be staffed? Will we able to maintain our current cast? How much creative control will we have over the content?
To answer these questions, Issa and I sat down with a television executive from a prominent network. In short, his response confirmed our worst fears. He felt that in order for "ABG" to become more mainstream, the entire cast would need to be replaced. His suggestion for the lead character, J, was a long haired, fair-skinned actress who looked more like a model from a rap music video than an awkward black girl.
|Recast Tracy Oliver???|
First of all...called it. Second, of all, I hate it when I'm right sometimes. There's always this hope that yes, a show like this can transition from web to television successfully, with its cast and creativity intact. But in the end, it's just that - hope.
Someone explain to me why we need to replace...anyone, from ABG? Seriously? Tracy Oliver and Issa Rae? Seriously? Sujata Day and Lyman Johnson - are we for real? For real? Boss Lady? Fred? Baby-Voice????
First of all, these aren't "just" a bunch of friends who got together; go to YouTube and IMDB and look these people up - they're actors. They're professional. And they look great. Not to mention, J & White Jay are that rare, well-written BW/WM couple who make me not want to hurl.
|Wish. You. Were. Me.|
Lyman's as worthy as, say, Stuart Townsend or even Tom Felton, and coming from this bar, you know how serious that is.
Hollywood really sucks, people. Talk about being out of tune with a consumer base; isn't that, like, economic suicide? Oh, wait...never mind; I forgot how much they just don't care.
What the hell is next? Some Hollywood producer's going offer to put Ktown Cowboys on the big screen...so long as he gets to defile the entire cast like they're doing with Akira?