3.25.2015

Not Too Much of a Good Thing

There was a noticeable shift toward minority castings last season, with more parts opening up to ethnic actors, a casting term used for non-Caucasian thesps. It was a concerted effort, with more than one instance where a family member role was rewritten as adopted to make them ethnic. Then, following the success of freshman series How To Get Away With Murder, Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, Jane the Virgin and especially Empire, which launched to huge ratings at the kickoff of pilot casting season, ethnic castings exploded this season.

The change is welcomed by talent agents who no longer have to call casting directors and ask them if they would possibly consider an ethnic actor for a part, knowing they would most likely be rejected. “I feel that the tide has turned,” one agent said. “I can pitch any actor for any role, and I think that’s good.”

But, as is the case with any sea change, the pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction. Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal. Many pilot characters this year were listed as open to all ethnicities, but when reps would call to inquire about an actor submission, they frequently have been told that only non-Caucasian actors would be considered. “Basically 50% of the roles in a pilot have to be ethnic, and the mandate goes all the way down to guest parts,” one talent representative said.

...While they are among the most voracious and loyal TV viewers, African-Americans still represent only 13% of the U.S. population. They were grossly underserved, but now, with shows as Empire, Black-ish, Scandal and HTGAWM on broadcast, Tyler Perry’s fare on OWN and Mara Brock Akil’s series on BET, they have scripted choices, so the growth in that fraction of the TV audience might have reached its peak.
It hasn't reached its peak. Give us more, more Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American shows, covering a vast range of styles and themes. Some of us want a full streaming docket of brown faces and voices, more shows than we can count.

We'll let you know when we get sick and tired.

12 comments:

  1. There are too many minority shows on TV..Really?!

    I don't think that Ms. Andreeva must have looked at TV/movies too much. I don't know about her,but when I see them from the past and especially, from the 1960's and below, all I've seen was White faces on them and if they did feature a Black person they were way in the back and definitely, playing a maid or butler and never had a significant role in the picture.Yes..these days, there are more and more minority shows being shown on TV/movies,but right now this representation is just a blip on the map compared to the many years of exclusion minority actors faced..and still faced during those days. Until, then minority representation on TV/movies are still small. .

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  2. You know, things were better in the mid-80s to mid-90s. You had a number of shows with either majority non-White casts or at least one POC in a majority White cast. The Cosby Show, A Different World, 227, Amen, Family Matters, Saved by the Bell, Living Single, Roc, What's Happening Now!, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Cosby.

    Even in the late 70s/early 80s you had The Jeffersons, Good Times, What's Happening!, That's My Mama, Sanford & Son, Diff'rent Strokes, & Webster. Once the turn of the 21 century rolled around, it's like someone in upper echelon of entertainment said, "OKAY! The Coloreds have had their fun! Let's turn things around they way they used to be." You could count how many shows featuring POC in prominent roles: The George Lopez Show, Half & Half just to name a few.

    Today, we have: Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Black'ish, Cristela, Fresh Off the Boat, Modern Family, Marvel: Agents of Shield, and a few others.

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    1. This was a typical week for me in the year 1968. I was 11 years old then and I remember most of these programs well. Situated mid-page you’ll notice an entry for Julia starring Dianne Carol. Her character was surrounded by an ensemble white cast making her one of two blacks on the show. Some shows like Mannix- Ironside and Star Trek boasted a lone black cast member, while others had blacks as guest performers (Carol Burnett, and Ed Sullivan come to mind).

      White America was content with the White-black ratio while people of color suffered in silence. Any time you saw a black person on television back then you were thrilled. What’s funny is that back then, Animals had more shows on television than black people did. Gentle Ben, Lassie, The littlest Hobo, Rin Tin Tin-, Daktari (featuring Clarence, the cross-eyed Lion), Flipper, Mr Ed- Lancelot Link: just to name a few. That’s how much whites hated to see us on television. We go in and out of style every 20 years or so like an old suit. Remember this critique of the 1999 television season?

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    2. Yep! And I also forgot to add The Facts of Life, Dynasty, & Love Boat from the 80s. :)

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  3. I would like to see more shows with POC that feature Asians and Latinos more.

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    1. PREACH. Some people are acting like because we have Fresh off the Boat, we're done. Um, no. Not by a long shot.

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  4. Some years ago when it appeared that women of color were finally getting their just due in the Miss America Pageant, (Which had been exclusively white for over 70 years), some whites complained about its irrelevancy. Still others opined: "We need to have Our Own Miss America Pageant!" The same follows when too many brown people clog up the television screen.

    From what we’ve seen, there’s safety in the Majority status, there’s strength in the Majority status: control, nationalism and hence, racial identity lies with the Majority status. The way in which the Majority identifies/controls the commonly accepted norms of society transcends any argument for equality or parity in television. The delusion the Majority holds onto is this: because you blacks make up a mere 12 percent of the population you should only be seen 12 percent of the time. Twelve instances out of a hundred. The reasoning is sound because the intersection of ‘Our’ minority status and race is hardwired into their DNA.

    Whites are human, Whites are American- Whites are Entitled… Exceptional, and by extension Chosen because they are white. Therefore it is inconceivable for them to see a time where people of color dominate the Airwaves, Government, the Political/Social or Economic Strata because it goes against everything this nation was predicated upon, that being White Rule. In this country the word ‘Minority’ has come to mean Less than Human, Less Deserving of rights or privileges, Less of an American when compared to the Default. Just the way God intended.

    An excerpt from South Park, Pee Episode: Here, he laments his feelings about race in song.

    “Kyle: Dude, where have you been?
    Cartman: I've been counting. Do you know there are two hundred and five Mexicans here? and there are a hundred and ninety black people!
    Kyle: So what?
    Cartman: So?! Guess how many white people are at the water park today? One hundred and forty three! There are actually more minorities here than us!
    Kyle: Well then they're not minorities, are they?
    Cartman: ...What do you mean?
    Kyle: Dumbass, if there's sixty percent of them to forty percent of us, then who's the minority?!
    Cartman: The black and brown people.
    Kyle: No, you're the minority!
    Cartman: Do I look like a minority to you, stupid?! Now look guys, I did some calculations: just last year, there were almost ninety percent normal people to minorities. That's fifty percent rise in one, year!
    Stan: This is more math than I've ever seen you do.
    Cartman: Because it's important! A fifty percent rise each year means that in three years the world will be only... minorities. That's 2012! The Mayans predicted this!”

    Substitute the words "Water Park" for Television and the argument makes even more sense. As I’ve said before. The reason we don’t see many people of color on television is because whites (Like Eric Cartman) can barely tolerate the ones we have on there now. So expect the inevitable backlash when the over-representation of non-whites reaches critical mass, making the white majority not only uncomfortable- but Politically Active. “We need to take our airwaves back!” will be the chant.

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    1. Wait until they realize that POC make up about 93% of planet Earth's population

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    2. @ Mickey

      I laughed aloud when I read that. I think White America tends to think only in terms of "America" - thinking about all those billions of brown people beyond the border is just too much.

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  5. Mr Gibson, you just won today's iteration of the internet.

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  6. Hmmm...the more the world is becoming diverse..White society seem to get paranoid about it. It seems the thought of a fear of a Black Planet..lol!..is really scaring some people. Cosmopolitian magazine is the latest publication expressing their dismay about something being " too Black". It seems that in their minds, darker skin is a " trend" that should perish.( Source:TheGrio)..

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