I’m an avid reader of Deadline. As a cinephile and TV lover it’s a fantastic resource to the goings-on in Hollywood. It’s how I learned that Bradley Cooper wants to direct and star in a remake of A Star is Born alongside Beyoncé. Unfortunately, information wasn’t the only thing to hit my inbox yesterday. Deadline’s TV editor Nellie Andreeva penned a piece entitled, “Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings- About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?” I immediately found the title troubling. Right now there approximately six shows on networks with Black leads. Scandal, Empire, How to Get Away with Murder, Blackish, Being Mary Jane and Tyler Perry’s lineup on OWN. Seriously, that is all. We have watched nearly all-white television for well-over a decade and when we finally get television that looks more like America in general, Ms. Andreeva is offended? I won’t even get into her use of “ethnic” here because… ugh.
She goes on to say that it’s unfair that casting agents are turning away “qualified” white actors for black actors with little experience, and that various shows were written for white leads but went to black actors. It seems like Ms. Andreeva is trying to say that there is some type of quota system that is being filled instead of many very talented and qualified actors finally getting the opportunities that they deserve.
She states, “African-Americans still represent only 13 percent of the US population. They were grossly underserved, but now with shows such as Empire … on broadcast they have scripted choices so that growth in the fraction of the TV audience may have reached its peak.” What is so infuriating here about Ms. Andreeva’s insinuation is that only Black people watch shows with Black casts. The numbers from Empire and HTGAWM show that this is a gross inaccuracy. What’s so baffling here is the fact Andreeeva uses these numbers as if television casting must be 77% White, 17% Hispanic , 13% Black and 5% Asian to mirror the US population. I’ve never known TV or film for that matter to look like this and I’m doubtful that it ever will. Instead it just seems like Andreeva is using her huge platform to spew “white fear” as if people of color are going to jump through the television and take over white livelihoods.
If you don’t know much about Hollywood or film and television in general, please note that the only things networks and studio truly care about is ratings and ticket sales. Why? Because money. But here’s the thing, Black people make up an overwhelming amount of the TV-watching and film-going audiences. TV should look more like it did in the ’90’s during my childhood. Seeing other people who looked like me on screen really shaped who I am today and further instilled in me that my stories were important. (Heck, more diverse television may even teach some White people a thing or two.) For the upcoming fall and summer 2015 pilot season, there will be 72 new TV pilots and series with Black actors and actresses in leading or supporting roles. Just to name a few, there is Issa Rae’s highly anticipated Insecure for HBO, Meagan Good in Minority Report for FOX, Ava DuVernay-directed For Justice on CBS and ABC’s new Shondaland pilot The Catch. Not to mention the return of Starz’s Power this summer. If Deadline and Nellie Andreeva think television is too Black, well ma’am, just wait on it.
What say you fam? Let us know in the comments.