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Hollywood opens door for diversity

There has been a new wave that has taken televisions and major movie productions by storm: the use of more ethnic actors and actresses on screen. New shows with killer casts have been taking over television networks.

Between last fall and this spring, shows with more ethnic casts such as “Empire,” “Jane the Virgin,” and “How to Get Away With Murder” have captured the attention of TV viewers all over. Some could argue that it is because of the racial diversity. I would say the reason these shows do so well is because the cast is very carefully hand picked and each member provides a precise talent that blends well with the cast as a whole.

The Deadline article, Pilots 2015: The Year Of Ethnic Castings, shows the positive feedback from casting agents and how this changes the way in which this industry has been for such a long time. Lead roles that were originally set to be played by Caucasians have been rewritten to include ethnic actors and actresses.

ABC, home to “How to Get Away With Murder” and “Scandal” have spearheaded this movement to change the rigid form in which this industry has been operating.

Although others may not think so, our country is still segregated in so many ways. Although there is no official sign or law that continues this act of separation, it is still exists in the 21st Century. Minorities have been under represented for years so this shift in Hollywood is a positive change.

The ratings seem to speak for themselves. On Thursday nights this past fall between 11 and 14 million viewers tuned in to watch two shows with an ethnic cast and written by a black female. According to an article from Entertainment Weekly, Shonda Rhimes has “conquered Thursday nights.”

Cast of Empire. Photo courtesy of Fox
Cast of Empire. Photo courtesy of Fox

The media and film industry is just now catching up with what the rest of the world has already accepted. Cultural and social diversity is a must while going into the future.

An article from Deadline claims that although this change is positive, there have been instances in which some roles have been specific in requesting ethnic-only talent apply. I can understand that there may be a certain vision for a specific role.

What kind of message does that send and why are there parts designated for ethnic talent only?

The message I receive from that method of casting is that there is a certain percentage of the cast that must be ethnic. I do not believe that is ethical in any way. Casting should be cast based on talent and qualities they possess not the melanin in their skin. An exceptional actor or actress is so because of who they are and what they provide.

People watch these progressive shows because they are relatable, they spark intrigue, the scandals are jaw dropping, they exhibit colorblind casting, and they are openly accepting of all relationship backgrounds. Viewers pay attention to the talent and how they add to the whole cast. The last thing anyone is worried about is the amount of melanin one cast member has over the next.

This movement into the era of racially diverse television has been needed since segregation and prejudice was phased out. Although many things have been behind the diversification curve, it has been time for television networks to hop aboard and support diversity in a positive light.

The buzz around this article and topic as a whole seems to be in agreement that this change is a positive start. There is nothing wrong with seeking for the inclusivity of all races instead of predominately Caucasian television shows, news stations and movies. Just as Americans expect gender equality, we should expect racial equality in every part of the American way of life. Once stations integrate colorblind casting, the way in which this industry has been operating will be a distant past and our country will have finally caught up with current times.

The entertainment business is an industry that acts in response to what the fans are seeking. Television viewers can appreciate seeing people of their own racial background exhibiting talent for others to enjoy. Since ratings are at an all time high, why stop while things are just heating up?

Not all ethnic-based shows are worth airing, but that has more to do with writing and the way in which the cast works together as opposed to race. Hopefully this movement will continue to give American viewers knock-out shows with phenomenal casts.


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Hollywood opens door for diversity