Mainstream film/tv studios are considered a “boys club” with good reason: they often make story and casting decisions based on male – especially adolescent male – values, eg fast action, violence,t&a. Casting may too often exclude and limit actors with talent who don’t fit in the preferred categories.
Emily Ratajkowski gained attention for dancing unclothed alongside Robin Thicke and Pharrell in the 2013 music video “Blurred Lines.”
An article notes that shortly after, she landed her first film role, in David Fincher’s “Gone Girl.”
Ratajkowski comments on her work in the video and Hollywood in general:
“We took something that on paper sounded really sexist and misogynistic and made it more interesting, which is why women love that video and why it became a viral success.
“There’s an attitude and energy there that goes beyond girls shaking their ass around suited men — a confidence that I think is refreshing.
“We don’t have any images of nude women other than in really beautiful magazines shot by great photographers that aren’t overly sexualized. And I think that “Blurred Lines” wasn’t overly sexualized, and that’s what made it interesting.
“I said no to it originally, and then I met with the director [Diane Martel], who ended up doing the tour for Miley Cyrus. I laid it out to her up front: ‘I’m not gonna be naked and running around.’
“Then we had a really great conversation and hit it off as women and creative people and I think that’s how the video happened. … I definitely think that no one expected me to have any ideas about it.
“When people asked me about it initially, I think they thought I’d be like, ‘It was just really fun and exciting.’ I was like, ‘No, actually, here’s what I think about sexuality and empowerment and the way we look at nudity in our country and this is what bothers me and here’s a great opportunity, thanks for asking.’
“Hollywood is a boys club, and that’s something I thought was a stereotype — and it’s not. That really shocked me. Still shocks me.
“Everyone’s helping their buddies out and pressing their buddies and playing tennis with their buddies and making movies with their buddies, and that grosses me out.
“I know that sometimes, I get in a room because someone has said, ‘I have this model — she was in the ‘Blurred Lines’ video? Oh, and ‘Gone Girl’! So she’s also a good actress.’ I’m sure that’s there.”
From Emily Ratajkowski gets serious about that ‘Blurred Lines’ video by Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times Aug21.15.
[Photo from her Twitter profile.]
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Indira Varma notes in the book On Acting that she “has been typecast as the Asian babe, a bit of exotic, the corner-shop girl, or the London Asian girl…
“But film is even more obsessed with looks than the theatre industry, and casting directors generally don’t consider me for roles which are non-Asian.”
[Photo of Varma in Game of Thrones.]
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Viola Davis points out discrimination based on appearance for many women actors:
“With white women, there are different kinds of beauty. You have the pre-Raphaelite beauty, then you have the girl next door, then you have the geek princess like Janeane Garofalo.
“So you have them playing the different kinds of roles. With black women, you’re either beautiful or you’re not. I’m not even just talking pretty. If you’re not a classical beauty, you’re nothing.” [LA Times December 1 2002]
Quotes on her imdb page include these:
“The thing about the African-American community compared with the white community is, we are more concerned with image and message than execution. I don’t play roles that are necessarily attractive or portray a positive image. They are well-rounded characters. When you squelch excellence to put out a message it’s like passing the baton and seeing it drop.”
[on roles for African-American actresses] – “You’re not doing the Irish and Scottish accents they taught at Juilliard. In the real world you’re doing Ebonics and Jamaican.”
Michael Cory Davis, in his article The State of African-Americans in Hollywood [on his site michaelcorydavis.com] writes, “What is disturbing is the growing level of difficulty to even get into the circle to display the talent in front of the directors and producers of “HOLLYWOOD BUDGETED” projects. There are many reasons for this. One of those reasons is the lack of interest distribution companies and producers have in finding and marketing new, African-American talent. Another is the recycling of all ready working actors in feature films being developed and the hiring of established talent in other areas of the entertainment industry, specifically the music industry to take on roles within films.”
Monroe Mann (founder of Unstoppable Actors) takes a “drill sergeant” approach in his book The Theatrical Juggernaut: The Psyche of the Star to dealing with these kinds of barriers:
“You cannot blame your agent, You cannot blame your manager, you cannot blame the industry, you cannot blame your talent or your looks, age, sex, race, and you cannot blame your fellow actors. The blame [for why this or that didn’t happen] falls only on you… The only thing standing between you and success is yourself.”
One path or many
If you have a passion, a calling to be primarily an actor, great. Pursue that. But many gifted and talented people in the arts find satisfaction in multiple paths.
Michael Cory Davis, for example, is also a writer (novel and screenplays), a Goodwill Ambassador for the organization “Face to Face Bulgaria” which works to rescue abused and exploited children from forced prostitution and violence and provide for them thereafter, and is also director of “Svetlana’s Journey” – “about stolen innocence.. a gruesome look into the life of a 13 yr. old Bulgarian girl sold into prostitution.”
> Also see my article Multitalented Creative People – Quotes by and about Leonard Nimoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Xavier Dolan, Juliette Binoche, Viggo Mortensen, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jamie Lee Curtis, Natalie Portman and others.