Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Meet the Cast of 'Desperate Housewives - Africa' + the Characters from the American Original They Each Play (Premieres in 2 Weeks) Meet the Cast of 'Desperate Housewives - Africa' + the Characters from the American Original They Each Play (Premieres in 2 Weeks) Netflix's 'The Getdown' Directed by Baz Luhrman Has Found Its Female Lead Netflix's 'The Getdown' Directed by Baz Luhrman Has Found Its Female Lead Meet the 3 Leads for the Next 'Star Wars' Movie (John Boyega Is One of Them) + Watch New Teaser Meet the 3 Leads for the Next 'Star Wars' Movie (John Boyega Is One of Them) + Watch New Teaser Quentin Tarantino's 'H8ful Eight' Gets a Teaser Trailer (Samuel L. Jackson, Belinda Owino) Quentin Tarantino's 'H8ful Eight' Gets a Teaser Trailer (Samuel L. Jackson, Belinda Owino) Here Are the Cities & Theaters in Which Patrik-Ian Polk's Award-Winning Drama 'Blackbird' Will Open Here Are the Cities & Theaters in Which Patrik-Ian Polk's Award-Winning Drama 'Blackbird' Will Open Trailer: Pilot Project 'First Gen' (The Trials and Tribulations of Being a First Gen Nigerian-American) Trailer: Pilot Project 'First Gen' (The Trials and Tribulations of Being a First Gen Nigerian-American) TV One Shores Up 2015-2016 Slate with 8 New Series, 16 Original Movies + New Production Partnerships TV One Shores Up 2015-2016 Slate with 8 New Series, 16 Original Movies + New Production Partnerships 'Walking Dead' Creator Says Rick and Morgan's Reunion Will Be "The Spine" of Season 6 'Walking Dead' Creator Says Rick and Morgan's Reunion Will Be "The Spine" of Season 6 Abderrahmane Sissako's 'Timbuktu' Quietly Grosses Over $1 Million in USA Box Office - Rare for an African Film Abderrahmane Sissako's 'Timbuktu' Quietly Grosses Over $1 Million in USA Box Office - Rare for an African Film Rumorville: Ernie Hudson Circling T'Chaka Role in Marvel's 'Black Panther' Movie Rumorville: Ernie Hudson Circling T'Chaka Role in Marvel's 'Black Panther' Movie Watch Cuba Gooding Jr. Wield a Gun and Snort Coke in his Underwear in Clip from 'Big Time in Hollywood, FL' Watch Cuba Gooding Jr. Wield a Gun and Snort Coke in his Underwear in Clip from 'Big Time in Hollywood, FL' People in Chicago Are Not Happy with Spike Lee’s 'Chiraq' People in Chicago Are Not Happy with Spike Lee’s 'Chiraq' Check Out the First Trailer for HBO's New Dramedy Series 'Ballers' Starring Dwayne Johnson Check Out the First Trailer for HBO's New Dramedy Series 'Ballers' Starring Dwayne Johnson 'Tales of the Grim Sleeper,' on Serial Killer Who Murdered Black Women for 25 Years, Debuts April 27 on HBO 'Tales of the Grim Sleeper,' on Serial Killer Who Murdered Black Women for 25 Years, Debuts April 27 on HBO Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' 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