Updated: Oct 29, 2021
Art by Jillian Mae Machacon
Growing up as an avid film and television lover, I realized a commonality between many
major films and TV shows, which brought up a question in my head: why are so many
characters played by a person of nonblack descent? This has become a controversial issue and I believe Hollywood has become a place for only white people.
There are three reasons for this, one of them being those casting producers of Hollywood
don’t make much of an effort to cast unknowns in the industry, so they cast the same old people like Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ryan Gosling. One example of this can be taken from a site called “The Perspective,” which states that, “In the United States, ethnic minorities constitute 40% of the population, but minority actors nab only 26% of film roles,” and even when people of color are cast, they manage to stay a minority, whose only purpose is to be there when the white character needs a shoulder to cry on to further develop the protagonist's storyline.
Another reason for this is because white people have been in control of Hollywood since the beginning of filmmaking in the early 1890’s. An example of this comes from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who declare that, “Ninety-four percent of major production studio executives are white.” This can certainly cause a bias on what projects to make and who’s stories Hollywood wants to tell, which can be seen as a form of white privilege, and it is quite disheartening, as there are so many other stories out there that can make the big screen with a person of color leading the movie.
Finally, the last example of why I see Hollywood as “too white” is because they’ve
normalized whitewashing. whitewashing is, when a person of color character is played by
someone who is white, or when a person of color role has their heritage erased for the approval of audiences. Examples of this can be seen throughout numerous film eras.in the 1961 classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in which Mickey Rooney, a man of Scottish and English descent, is seen playing Mr. Yunioshi, who should be of Japanese descent. Another example is Angelina Jolie who played numerous whitewashed roles in the 2000s, characters who are very much inspired by women of color, such as Halle Berry and Mariane Pearl.
Although many people may disagree with my point of view, I stand by my beliefs. They
may claim we are getting more diversity in Hollywood, now more than ever, but you can’t erase the past, filled with racist undertones and heritages of other people, whose roles in media have been overtaken by popular celebrities like Scarlett Johannson, Jake Gyllenhal, Johnny Depp, and others that have acted in parts that they shouldn’t be considered for in the first place. If you agree with my point of view, then I suggest we release the stigma of institutionalized racism and the white control in Hollywood and move on into an era of real, accurate diversity.