There has been much warranted controversy surrounding this year’s Oscars because of how whitewashed it is — not one actor of colour has been nominated for an Oscar. Many actors and fans alike have raised their disgust at this blatant oversight, but the problem runs much deeper than many realise. After expressing my opinion on Twitter and being met with white people who are up in arms at the cheekiness of me wanting more media representation of people of colour, I felt it only too necessary to write about this year’s controversy.
The problem with Hollywood lies in its casting. Roles are given to white actors over actors of colour in disproportionate ways. Some casting calls specify that only white actors need apply for the role.
Barely anyone practices colourblind casting, which is something that needs to be implemented across the board. Shonda Rhimes is infamous for colourblind casting and has some of the most racially diverse shows in the TV world. For example, the character Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy was scripted to be a blonde white woman. However, Rhimes’ policy of colourblind casting meant that the role went to the well-deserved Sandra Oh, who is Canadian-Korean.
The solution to Hollywood’s blatant discrimination lies largely in colourblind casting. If you give everyone an even playing field and ignore what their race is, more actors of colour would be cast because they are insanely talented and have had to go through a lot more to become successful, thus showing a depth of character that a white actor might not necessarily have.
Another issue with Hollywood is that movies that only have black actors, for example, are instantly seen as ‘black’ movies and are therefore not as publicised and praised. By categorising such films, Hollywood is saying ‘this film is only for black people, thus it has a limited audience and shouldn’t have as much attention as other films’. It’s funny how you never see an all-white film being dubbed as only having appeal to white people. White is classified as a ‘normal’ film that appeals to all races and all audiences. If this isn’t an obvious double standard, I don’t know what is.
I’m not saying that people should be given roles based solely on their race. That wouldn’t benefit anyone if the actor is undeserving of the role. However, I don’t believe enough actors of colour are being cast in big enough movies that could win Oscars. The roles that receive rave reviews are usually played by white actors. In an industry that can’t even pay actresses the same amount as their male opposites, it’s unsurprising that the industry is continuing a casual oppression of actors of colour. Until colourblind casting becomes a widespread way of doing things, I don’t see that the Oscars will become diverse anytime soon. You know there’s a problem when some of the biggest names in the industry are speaking out, including both black and non-black actors and actresses. I for one would like more diversity and representation in Hollywood. I want to see people on the big screen who look like me, people I can relate to. And unless actors and actresses of colour are given an equal playing field with white actors when it comes to casting, the future looks bleak.