Yes, naysayers, even in fiction. A character not being real a real person doesn’t mean their identity doesn’t matter. If we can’t bring ourselves to care about fictional characters then how will we ever care about real people being equal in opportunities? Getting into the entertainment business is hard and it’s made harder when your identity is either ignored or blatantly shunned.
So many artists of color have spoken up about this, and people still act like it’s not a problem. I’ve seen and spoken to many writers of color who have been rejected from publishing houses because “They already had a POC story out.” They put quotas on ethnic characters, whether or not that story is even about that person being ethnic. To add insult to injury, 9 times out of 10, that story wasn’t even written by a POC.
I’ve seen and spoken to actors who have been rejected for being POC, they saw a character, with no physical description, because unfortunately the default appearance is white, get rejected because they didn’t want the role to be ethnic.
People love to say, “Well race shouldn’t matter; it should be about acting skills.” You’re absolutely right, but again, unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. There are so many amazing actors of color out there who are either stuck in stereotypical roles, roles that are about their ethnic struggle, or side roles with lack luster development. No, I’m not saying that there haven’t been exceptions, - there are always exceptions, - but it’s not enough, especially when so many are still being rejected simply for being ethnic.
The other thing people love to say; is to let diversity come naturally. That’s a thing that I can’t wrap my head around, because what does that even mean? Does that tie into being a great actor and that there aren’t many great POC actors? If that’s the case, then why do so many mediocre non-POC still get more roles? Another thing; how is it to come naturally if every time a movie casts an actor of color in a lead role that has nothing to do with their race, it’s met with anger and rage? Example: Star Trek Discovery. Star Trek is show that from the very beginning was a pillar for diversity, but now it is getting backlash from so-called fans regarding the new leads.
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say you don’t care about race and that it’s about the skill, and then when it doesn’t cater to your expectations, cry foul. Yes, I know it feels political because everyone is asking for it. Well, that’s because it’s 2017 and we shouldn’t have to. The world is diverse, especially the US, and it’s time to embrace that.