My first #ConQnA features Jo Roark, a writer living in Los Angeles. Read about her writing journey so far! #writers
More Diversity in Prime Time: It’s Not Your Imagination – The Root
This article mostly talk about black-ish in the aftermath of it’s premiere yesterday, but it also spotlights Jane the Virgin, which I must say was probably my favorite pilot this fall. Check it out!
Also check out two more articles regarding blackish:
In ABC’s ‘Black-ish,’ everyone has racial issues [Washington Post]
Black-ish: “Pilot”: Don’t call it the black Modern Family [AV Club]
The show makes me both excited and nervous. I'm excited to see a black family on television. I'm even more excited to see a black family in a network single camera sitcom. But oh boy am I nervous. The title alone is a little worrisome--black-ish implies that through their middle class lifestyle, they're not fully black, only a little black or sort of black. Hopefully the show addresses this with comedy and class.
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What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise.”
What’s wrong with the Starship Enterprise?! What’s wrong with some diversity?! In order to maintain the story that Noah and his family repopulate the earth, the casting directors went with all white actors. And People of Color have had enough with the whitewashing (Noah, as a resident of the Middle East, would not have had Russel Crowe’s complexion) but if you want to say race doesn’t matter, then why not have each member of the family come from a different part of the world? I know from the story that Noah’s sons had wives: why not have them be non-white?
White as the default is very strong, but especially in mythic stories even when the story doesn’t belong to white people. It was a relief when I learned that the new FOX show Hieroglyph isn’t cast with all white people, but actual People of Color (we haven’t gotten as far as casting people directly from or descendent of the region, though).
There’s the idea that if something in a character description isn’t relevant to the plot, don’t write it in. So if a character isn’t described as being Black or Asian or Indian, it’s usually thought of to be white, even though the race of the character has nothing to do with the plot, hence why it wasn’t mentioned, so the character should be able to be cast as any race. We need to get past white as default, because it leaves so many people with no representations of themselves in the media in places where they could have been or even should have been represented.
It’s awful that he said this. I don’t think he realized the problems with his words, but it’s certainly not earned him anything from People of Color. It is clear that he thinks that in order for a story to be accepted by everyone and to stand on a grand, epic scale, only white people can be in it. Asian people or Black people or Hispanic people can’t be epic or represent mankind. Again, I think a better, more diplomatic solution would have been to cast everyone as a different race, but I suppose that would have been too controversial for them.
via Co-Screenwriter of ‘Noah’ Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film | Shadow and Act.
Phylicia Rashad Isn’t Happy With The Current State Of Sitcoms | Clutch Magazine.
I love Phylicia Rashad. She’s so elegant and mature and statuesque. She’s a queen of 80s sitcoms and the queen of all black sitcoms, in my opinion. She has some observations on how modern television works in comparison to when she was in her heyday and things aren’t looking good. Writers are becoming more isolated, in her view, too scattered across the country.
Click the link to read more.
To be frank, it’s a huge deal that she [Mindy Kaling] has her own show at all, and she’s undoubtedly broken lots of barriers and paved the way for more women of color to do the same thing. But if we can’t merely rely on more diverse creative teams to help us with more equal, more three-dimensional representation, who should we count on? Whose responsibility is it to bring more diversity to television?
Click through for more.
HBO Uses Hip Hop To Lure Black Audiences To ‘Game Of Thrones’ ~ Black Girl Nerds
Jamie at Black Girl Nerds makes some excellent points and correlations, HBO needs to skip the “hip-hopification” and actually get some diversity both on their existing shows and upcoming ones. You can’t claim Issa Rae is coming to your network and call it quits.
I love that HBO got some nerd rappers to rap about nerdy stuff, but don’t use it to “appeal to black audiences” because that shows you don’t know how to appeal to black audiences. Check it out!
Last week, I was blessed to have been able to attend a NYWiFT Panel on the current state of black women on screen at Harlem venue My Image Studios (MiST). It was very inspiring and I got to watch Scandal afterwards with a room full of Gladiators. It was pretty amazing. Here are some of the questions and responses below (featuring general essence of their answers, with direct quotes from my notes).
The panelists for the evening were: Neema Barnette, Julie Dash, Sharon Hope, Chenoa Maxwell, and Rachel Watanabe-Batton with Ylana Kellar as the moderator. You can google them and check out their work like I have been. They’ve all been working in Hollywood trying to get the stories of black women told in the right ways and the things they had to say were very inspiring for all future black artists: whether actors, writers, directors, producers, any kind of black content creator.
The questions and answers are below as slides, click one and read through! These ladies were really inspirational and it was great to just be in a room with other like-minded people. Hopefully the roles portrayed by black actresses will continue to expand in number and in character dimension.
With Scandal ruling primetime and star Kerry Washington becoming an awards season fixture, more pilots led by black actors are in the works this season.
These are some of the black actors getting roles in upcoming pilots: Viola Davis, Anthony Anderson, Kevin Hart, Craig Robinson, Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Octavia Spencer, & Halle Berry. This is a star studded list of people and doesn’t even include the actors from FOX’s upcoming Hieroglyph, who are less mainstream A-/B-list actors. It’s wonderful getting to see more faces of color on television, hopefully with stories that diversify the stereotypes often relegated to such characters.
Now we just have to hope these shows get picked up past their pilots, so we actually get to see them act in these shows.
Mo Ryan of the Huffington Post breaks down cable/premium channel lack of diversity (for both women and PoCs) in the last few years. The numbers are awfully lacking any kind of diversity. We think the networks are bad with this stuff and that premium/cable is the way to go, but their numbers are somewhat worse! Check the quote and click through for the article.
Audiences can and should take individual writers to task for problems they perceive in a given show. But as long as this debate is limited to individual dramas, and doesn’t consider the entities that commission and distribute them, the conversation is likely to go around in circles indefinitely.