All my life I have been a fan of what is known as the art of cinema, and my friends always struggled to understand my passion for movies. I'd just sit silently listening to them discuss what dress the #Kardashians were wearing or #TaylorSwift's new heartbreak. Luckily (and thankfully) times have changed, the film industry is growing bigger and bigger, and it's grabbed everyone's attention.
From reboots to blockbusters, I'll always find myself in line at the theater and it is in my best interest to keep up with what happens behind the screens. I remember on school nights I'd stay up until 5am because the #Oscars were airing and many were confused as to why the Oscars meant so much to me. To put it briefly, the Oscars were what the #VMAs are to others — a yearly award that cannot be missed.
Although I'm fascinated by Hollywood, I and many others have noticed a flaw: the lack of diversity in Hollywood. This is why there is a need for campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite. Not because we are annoyed that the Oscars didn’t nominate any people of color for an award, but the fact there are no people of color to nominate because of the lack of roles for POC.
Hollywood Tends To Make More Money When Casts Include People Of Color
Hollywood has been accused of many things, such as lack of originality and lack of creativity, but one thing it has always been accused of is the lack of diversity in films. While many actors of color, like Idris Elba, Zendaya and Riz Ahmed, are finding some spotlight in Hollywood, there still remains a lack of diversity.
It's become quite clear that casts with actors of color tend to make more money. Looking at the success of #StraightOuttaCompton, which had a budget of $28 million, it ended up making $200 million. It then became the highest-grossing biopic of all time. The move earned more than its competitions like, #TheNiceGuys or #WarRoom, which were expected to make more in the box office than Straight Outta Compton.
USC Study Shows Hollywood Is Very White
A study from USC found statics showing the lack of diversity seen in Hollywood. The study analyzed 11,000 speaking parts that appeared in movies in the year 2014 and 28 percent were not white. It has also been found that 87 percent of film directors were white.
The lack of diversity is also seen on our small screen. Networks like #TheCW making an effort to have a diverse cast with shows like Jane The Virgin, The Flash and many more, it doesn't stop the fact that half of the TV shows had no speaking roles for Asians. The study also found that women of color are underrepresented in the industry, with more then 40 being described as "largely invisible."
White Washing Is Happening (Too Often) And It's Taking Away Opportunities For POC
For those unfamiliar with the term "whitewashing," in short it means when a role is designed for a person of a certain ethnicity or background, but the role is instead played by a white actor or actress. There are too many examples of "whitewashing" and it's not fair nor right. Now, I don't blame the actors for taking the roles, but I blame Hollywood for not casting someone of that particular culture.
Take, Exodus: Gods and Kings for example. The film is set in Egypt, but the whole cast was played by white actors and actress while the only roles black actors were given was as lower class citizens. Also, in #Marvel's newest addition to their expanding universe, #TildaSwinton was cast as The Ancient One, a character who was born in Kamar-Taj. I can go on because there's a long list of examples where characters have been wrongly portrayed.
To conclude, I'd like to remind everyone just why it's so important to be represented in Hollywood. Like I've stated before, I'm a fan of movies and TV shows and I always thought the idea of a film being set in Bangladesh, showing not only the life of someone living in poverty, but also the idea of my Bangladeshi culture being represented, was out of reach.
I realized we are in the 21st century. We have evolved, we have learned and it's time for minorities to get a shot on the big screen. I remember when a documentary showing the life of a Bangladeshi aired on BBC — I called my whole family to watch it together because it was such an exciting experience to know that your culture is being broadcasted. It gives everyone a chance to understand why you're so proud of your ethnicity. I can't imagine the feeling of having a movie set in Bangladesh.
I then realized I'm not the only one who wants or feels the need to be represented. There are so many others who want the chance to see actors of their culture being represented and that's why movements like #OscarsSoWhite begin. Representing different cultures on the big screen will also also open doors for new talent.
I hope that POC will be represented in the near future and the issue of "whitewashing" or #OscarsSoWhite will no longer be an issue that we have to discuss. We need our issues to be heard loud and clear before any change will be made in Hollywood. From tweeting 140 characters to sharing a chunky post on Facebook about the issue, call for action instead of waiting for a hashtag to trend.