Acting and image – ethnicity and casting

America Ferrera-NYTimes-qu

There are many challenges in the journey of how to become an actor, including acting auditions and casting calls. Here are some insights from actors:

America Ferrera – actor, musician, producer (“Superstore” and others) spoke about casting:

“I was 18 and putting myself on tape for a movie I really wanted. I got that phone call: They cast a Latino male in another role in the film; they’re not looking to cast [a Latina].

“So I defiantly bleached my hair blond, painted my face white and made the audition tape. I never heard back.

“I just remember feeling so powerless. What do you do when someone says, ‘Your color skin is not what we’re looking for’? Let me tell you: Blond does not suit me. I try not to prove my point on audition tapes anymore.”

From What It’s Really Like to Work in Hollywood* (*If you’re not a straight white man.) By Melena Ryzik, New York Times Feb. 24, 2016.

“The statistics are unequivocal: Women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in front of and behind the camera. Here, 27 industry players reveal the stories behind the numbers — their personal experiences of not feeling seen, heard or accepted, and how they pushed forward. In Hollywood, exclusion goes far beyond #OscarsSoWhite.”

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See more quotes by her and other people in post: America Ferrera: It all starts with a dream – She says: “This all started with a dream. I was probably as young as seven when I knew that this was what I wanted to spend my life doing… It really just takes a dream.”


Navi RawatOne of the pleasures of the tv series “Numb3rs” for me was the character Amita Ramanujan (played by Navi Rawat) who is not only a math whiz, but a woman of exotic beauty, not the standard blonde [as appealing as many blondes may be].

Navi Rawat was born to a German mother and an Indian father, and has admitted she felt self-conscious about that fact earlier in her life, but now feels ”it’s all fine.”

“Since I first started acting, I’ve found [my ethnicity] to be beneficial instead of something to overcome… If I wasn’t from a multi-ethnic background, I wouldn’t have had these great experiences. And one of the things that makes me a good actor is life experience”


Sheetal ShethSheetal Sheth finds some Hollywood attitudes about ethnicity strange and sometimes painful with respect to how to become an actor:

“Whenever I hear people talking about actors of South Asian descent like me ‘crossing over into the mainstream,’ I wonder, ‘Crossing over from where?

“From Jersey? I’m an American girl! [Her hometown is in New Jersey.] And it hurts to hear that I’m ‘too ethnic’ when I audition for parts.

“I picked just about the only profession where it’s OK to be discriminated against because of your race – but this kind of rejection only makes me more determined to succeed.”

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Rashida JonesRashida Jones has her own perspectives on attitudes and decisions that are still homogenizing rather than diversifying many casts.

“I am very light-skinned and I don’t look like I have a black parent, so it makes people feel comfortable to say what they really mean around me.

“I’d show up to a casting and the casting director would be visibly relieved and would tell me: `You don’t really look that black at all.’ It’s really horrible.

“Or I’d be doing a casting for a black character and the director would be ignoring my audition and trying to figure out what race I am. There’s definitely some growing to be done in Hollywood.”

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Related article of mine: Identity and Being Creative – quotes by James Franco, Vin Diesel, Tilda Swinton, Ellen Page and other artists.


Article publié pour la première fois le 02/09/2015