Taika Waititi recently spoke about the concept of diversity in Hollywood and why he believes the term itself is “wrong.” During a luncheon hosted by The Hollywood Reporter, Waititi addressed the industry’s misconception of diversity and shared his perspective on how it should be approached.
Waititi began by acknowledging the writers’ strike and humorously admitted that he hadn’t prepared a speech in advance. He sought to understand why Hollywood is failing to address diversity and inclusivity, prompting an AI chatbot to list several crucial issues: lack of representation, whitewashing, limited opportunities, pay disparities, tokenism, performative activism, and industry practices.
You can check out the luncheon here:
Waititi criticized the idea of including a person from every race and background in every film or show, stating that it is neither realistic nor authentic. He humorously emphasized that he never grew up with a diverse group of friends representing every ethnic group. Instead, he called for Hollywood to focus on “decolonizing the screen” and to prioritize authentic representation and diverse showrunners.
According to Waititi, it is important for characters of color to be included in a story when it makes sense rather than as an obligatory gesture. He stressed the need for stories controlled and run by people from the respective communities, urging Hollywood not to impose white showrunners or set rules for marginalized groups.
Waititi cited examples of shows like “Beef”, “Atlanta”, and “Reservation Dogs”, which predominantly feature casts of one race or culture and tell specific stories. He related to these shows as a person of Māori and Jewish heritage, highlighting the importance of shared experiences among minorities who have been fighting for their voices to be heard.
He cautioned against falling into the trap of comparing struggles and pitting marginalized groups against each other, emphasizing that everyone has faced challenges. He also confronted the expectation for people of color to fix the diversity issue when the responsibility lies with those in power.
In an analogy, Waititi compared the industry’s role in addressing diversity to someone burning down a house and then expecting the victims to rebuild it. He stressed that the responsibility lies with those who caused the problem in the first place.
Waititi acknowledged that fixing diversity in Hollywood will take time and that mistakes will happen along the way. However, he emphasized the importance of making authentic efforts and striving for progress.
Waititi also shared that while he enjoys shows like “Succession”, which predominantly feature white characters, he doesn’t want to see other cultures represented solely in those types of shows. He emphasized the need for a variety of stories and representation beyond the traditional white narrative.
Source: Buzzfeed, The Hollywood Reporter