Perhaps it doesn’t seem like the biggest of deals, but our willingness to accept the casting of anyone with a tan as a
generic ethnic/exotic look is what got us Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl (A Mighty Heart), Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin (Iron Man 3), and Janina Gavankar as Luna Garza (True Blood). People of color aren’t as interchangeable as Hollywood would like us to believe, but Infinitely Polar Bear‘s casting calls prove that that belief has yet to successfully challenged.
Beck reminds us that this systematic problem in casting doesn’t boil down to the idea that all directors, producers, and casting directors are evil racists that need to be stopped. Yeah, something needs to be stopped, but it goes beyond shaking up the people making decisions. We need to shake up our school of thought. We need to stop finding excuses and loopholes for monochromatic casting, even if that means that I crawl through breakdowns every day with the sole purpose of publicly shaming those who deserve it. We need to stop defaulting to white.
Audra McDonald calls the theater her home. Sunday night she took her place at the head of the table.
McDonald’s star turn in a revival of Porgy & Bess culminated in her winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, the fifth Tony of her career. But as Shadow and Act’s Tambay reported Monday, not only has McDonald reached some rarified air–she’s only the third woman ever (and first woman of color) to win this many Tonys–but she’s done so with shocking efficiency: she’s appeared in only 10 Broadway productions since 1991.
“To help put this into some perspective,” Tambay writes, “imagine a Hollywood actress making 10 movies over a 20 year period, and winning Academy Awards (whether supporting or lead) for her performances in 5 of them.”
Tambay also raises a good question–where could McDonald, who also has two Grammy Awards and two Emmy Award nominations under her belt, go from here? One tantalizing possibility: Aretha Franklin reportedly wants McDonald to play her in a movie.