Most of the time, there are cinematic stereotypes that shape and reflect certain prejudices. The portrayal of characters plays a significant role in influencing people to believe in these prejudices.
We often see that people from different areas of the world are portrayed like they are not individuals but the same person copied and pasted with the same kind of habits; for example, Latinas are regarded as fiery or angry, Asians are called nerds, and black people are considered dangerous, not because of their actions, but because of their looks and nationality. In short, this is what we call racism, and Hollywood has been portraying different groups of people in such a way that it can be called racism, without thinking twice.
Amber Riley, the former star of “Glee,” once shared an experience when a producer told her that actors of color are “a little more disposable, because that’s the way the world is.” Moreover, if we look back, we will find a number of events where black and Asian people were targeted; for example, Mr. Yunioshi from the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was a character that was used to mock and make fun of Japanese people. He was a notorious character, and no wonder why that character was made like that.
In 2016, when the nominees’ list of Oscars was revealed, it was clearly seen that the whole list was monochrome. No actor of color was named in that list, which leads to a burst of activism, summed up as #OscarSoWhite. There is no doubt that several black and Asian actors in Hollywood have reached the heights of fame. But, the majority of them had to face racism and sexism during their journey.
That is an evidence that white actors and actresses are privileged when it comes to hiring and signing contracts for more significant projects.
Lucy Liu spoke about how she felt like a “Black sheep” in the industry in 2021. She also said, “I think I was just too naive and didn’t know what was ahead of me or what I was going to be up against.”
Two times winner of Tony awards and an Oscar winner Viola Davis is one of the most famous actresses of Hollywood. Davis has a video from 2018, where she was speaking at a Women Of The World event,where she elaborated how her career and opportunities were different from any other actor or actress, who came from the same place but had the privilege of being white. She also said she had won many awards, incuding Emmy, Oscar, and Tony awards, but she was not even close to those privileged actors and actresses who were following the same path as her.
No one can deny the fact that Hollywood has had serious racism issues from the very start. Maybe this is the time when all of this needs to be changed, as talent has nothing to do with skin color or facial features. Asians, Blacks, Latino, South Asians, and every other human has the right to get equal opportunities as white people.
Sources: New York Times, DW, Washington Post