Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Here Are 10 Reasons Why Many of You Aren't Going to Movie Theaters Anymore, According to a New Study Here Are 10 Reasons Why Many of You Aren't Going to Movie Theaters Anymore, According to a New Study 'Empire' Breaks Fox TV’s 22 Year Old Ratings Record 'Empire' Breaks Fox TV’s 22 Year Old Ratings Record Alexandra Shipp Has been Cast as Storm in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Alexandra Shipp Has been Cast as Storm in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Open Casting Call - 2 Male Leads in New Feature Film From the Producers of 'Pariah' & 'Yelling to the Sky' Open Casting Call - 2 Male Leads in New Feature Film From the Producers of 'Pariah' & 'Yelling to the Sky' "Stakes Is High" in First Trailer for Season 2 of STARZ Hit Drama Series 'Power' (Returns This Summer) "Stakes Is High" in First Trailer for Season 2 of STARZ Hit Drama Series 'Power' (Returns This Summer) An Open Letter to My Sister, Ava DuVernay An Open Letter to My Sister, Ava DuVernay American 'Luther' Gets Official Pilot Order at Fox, But Contingent on Cast. Let's Help Them Out... American 'Luther' Gets Official Pilot Order at Fox, But Contingent on Cast. Let's Help Them Out... Anthony Mackie Says 'Selma' Oscar Snub Is Because Voters Are "Tired of Race" Anthony Mackie Says 'Selma' Oscar Snub Is Because Voters Are "Tired of Race" Sundance Trailer Exclusive: Stanley Nelson's Timely 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' Sundance Trailer Exclusive: Stanley Nelson's Timely 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' Geeks Gone Wild in First Trailer for Rick Famuyiwa's Sundance-Bound Drama 'Dope' Geeks Gone Wild in First Trailer for Rick Famuyiwa's Sundance-Bound Drama 'Dope' These Movies Are Coming to Netflix's Streaming Library in February These Movies Are Coming to Netflix's Streaming Library in February Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Premieres Tonight on OWN. Watch 3 Clips Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Premieres Tonight on OWN. Watch 3 Clips Amazon Announces Plans to Disrupt Feature Film Production & Distribution Environment Amazon Announces Plans to Disrupt Feature Film Production & Distribution Environment Weekend B.O. Jan. 16-18  (You Gotta Be Kidding Me!) Weekend B.O. Jan. 16-18 (You Gotta Be Kidding Me!) Watch Teaser for 'Being Mary Jane' Season 2 + Details on Story, Guest Stars Watch Teaser for 'Being Mary Jane' Season 2 + Details on Story, Guest Stars Macy Gray, Bryshere Y. Gray (aka Yazz The Greatest) Will Have An Affair In Lee Daniels' 'Empire' Macy Gray, Bryshere Y. Gray (aka Yazz The Greatest) Will Have An Affair In Lee Daniels' 'Empire' It's A 'Hustle & Flow' Reunion! Taraji P. Henson Joins Terrence Howard In Lee Daniels' 'Empire' It's A 'Hustle & Flow' Reunion! Taraji P. Henson Joins Terrence Howard In Lee Daniels' 'Empire' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

'Orange Is The New Black' Creator Talks Race & Gender Struggles Faced In Pitching The Series

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act January 17, 2014 at 3:44PM

'Orange Is The New Black' Creator Talks Race & Gender Struggles Faced In Pitching The Series
1
Danielle Brooks, Taylor Schilling, Vicky Jeudy, Samira Wiley
Danielle Brooks, Taylor Schilling, Vicky Jeudy, Samira Wiley

I've teased previously that there are 3 kinds of film and TV projects that, when announced, you can almost guarantee will mean significant work for black actors: movies or TV shows that tell stories about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; movies or TV shows set in prisons; movies or TV shows centered around sports - especially if the sport is football, basketball, baseball or track. 

I'm being partly facetious, but you all know what's up! I should be preaching to the choir here. However, work is work. And I certainly won't disparage or condemn any actor trying to make a living. 

But it's the kind of statement (as well as what has been perceived to be the use of racial stereotypes) that's been voiced by some critics of Orange Is The New Black, the hit Netflix series that's received lots of coverage on this blog, which will likely continue, when season 2 debuts in the next year. 

It's a series that I actually never quite sunk my teeth into. I did watch about half of the first season, but there just wasn't enough there to encourage me to keep watching. In short, it just wasn't for me; not that it's a *bad* show. Quite the contrary actually. I just couldn't get into it the way others I know have (and not at all for the reason above). 

Its fans are certainly quite rabid in their love of the series, and they helped it become a colossal hit for Netflix last summer. 

I'm sure I'll revisit it at some point before season 2 debuts.

All that said, but certainly related, I thought I'd share this interview with series creator, Jenji Kohan, given to the Writers Guild Of America, West, published earlier today on their website, in which she addresses racial stereotypes and diversity on the show.

The significant piece of the interview comes in the below section:

WGAW: You’ve said in several interviews that you used the character of Piper as sort of a Trojan horse to get a show populated by black, lesbian, Hispanic and transgender women made in Hollywood.  

JK: You know, I love a true ensemble, and I was really determined to have one. But it’s a hard sell. It’s a big cast, and it’s a diverse cast, and it’s a lot of story so, you know, you start with one and you get in there and you expand.

WGAW: An attractive white female star is an easier sell.  

JK: Yes, in general, yes. And less so attractive white female star than, you know, a solid fish out of water story. You can pitch it in such a way that it’s familiar. It’s Private Benjamin. It’s, you know, something with cultural currency that is familiar to people you’re pitching.

WGAW: It’s hard to say, “It’s that old chestnut…”  

JK: Yeah, there’s not a lot of diverse stuff to point to to say, “It’s like this.” And without your similes it’s a harder sell.

Not that big of a revelation - at least it shouldn't be - to most of us who follow the industry overall - especially when it comes to film and TV castings. So there isn't much I can add to this, other than to say, well, of course! In essence, if she hadn't made a white woman the central character (or white man, on some other project), there may never have been an Orange Is The New Black

So what's new in Hollywood?

It IS "that old chestnut" in that scenario - as in, an idea, or joke that has been discussed or repeated so many times that it is not interesting or even funny any more.

You can read the full WGAW interview with Kohan HERE.

This article is related to: TV News, TV Interviews


Shadow & ActNewsletter