This feature can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.
other day, I was in a conversation on the internet about the
development of an indie video game. The main characters were to have
voice actors, and it just so happened one of the cast was a black guy.
The number of people who suddenly yelled "He should be voiced by Samuel L. Jackson!" was overwhelming.
made me wonder about the presence of black actors in major releases
these days. Setting aside that the internet is filled with idiots, is
Samuel L. Jackson the only option Hollywood has for 'the black guy'?
no, I'm being hyperbolic - we also have Will Smith. If the role
requires someone older, or a narrator, Morgan Freeman's usually the port
are others (no need to bring up each name of every rapper who's turned a
hand to film, for example), but they're very rarely cut out for
anything other than a comedy relief role.
If Hollywood needs a British black actor for whatever reason, they're stuck. Ocean's Twelve had to settle for Don Cheadle putting on a disgustingly poor Cockney accent.
not to say that there's a total dearth of black actors out there, it's
just that they often don't seem to get the kind of high profile exposure
that other actors of a similar (or even worse) skill level get.
that's if the audience don't just dismiss the presence of black actors
outright. If you remember back in 2011, Idris Elba had a solid role as
Heimdall, in Thor. Naturally, the internet filled with complaints about a black character appearing in what they considered exclusively white mythology.
The Hunger Games had Cinna, a fashion designer played by Lenny Kravitz (who absolutely rocked
the gold eyeshadow, by the way). As the book made no direct reference
to Cinna's race, there were loads of complaints that they dared to put
someone non-white in the role. In fact, there was a character that specifically was mentioned to be black in the text that got the same treatment.
seems there's a general theme of scripts not giving scope for black
characters, or an audience that's unaccepting of them. Though while
believable, those are both entirely awful excuses.
hey, what about ordinary television? TV presenters and show hosts
aren't limited by a script to be white, so the demographic ratios should
be better, right?
Well, according to Reggie Yates, 29, it's scary how few black faces there are on UK prime-time television.
the only black host on Saturday night television (He hosts The Voice),
he feels that not enough is done to accurately reflect the British
He told The Sun on the 16th that it was intimidating to be alone in a demographic.
“There’s more opportunity in America — and a bigger black audience," he said.
He's backed up by a comment from Lenny Henry, 54, after the Bafta TV awards last weekend.
successful comedian in his own right, he said: "I’m working on things
and trying to bring about change, but I can’t do it all on my own. We
need to invest in these programmes, in rainbow casting, in all of the
great black writers, producers and directors who make these programmes."
point about there being a bigger pool of black TV personalities and
actors in the US is a good one. Maybe the solution is to do use our
favourable exchange rate, and import more diverse actors from overseas.
can see it now. Donald Glover hosting CBBC, Lawrence Fishburne starring
in endless Channel 4 gritty dramas, Shaquille O'Neal reading the news
headlines on BBC Breakfast.
not go the whole hog and get me on the television? I would make an
incredible game show presenter! Take Me Out would never be the same