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I operate an Internet radio show that seeks to help independent entertainers and artists promote their projects.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

unHollywood Casting: Potential Pitfalls of Colorful Casting: By guest: Angelo Bell

Editor’s Note:

Today’s guest post comes to us compliments of writer, director, and award winning producer Angelo Bell. It’s with great pride that I say that Angelo was one of the first few people that I ever interviewed on my podcast. Over three years later, that episode is still among my favorites.

What I like best about Angelo is that he's constantly got so many cool projects going on at once that it’s impossible to keep up with him. Moreover, he’s always got something fun and interesting to say about his adventures. To that end, if his latest project, A Perfect Weapon, gets funded, I have it on good authority that he's promised to shoot an Elvis Presley/Tom Jones inspired music video with a little rap mixed in for good measure!

After you read his editorial below about the fairness of Hollywood casting policies, I invite you to check out his 10-year blog for more great reading.

Angelo, the floor is yours…


unHollywood Casting: Potential Pitfalls of Colorful Casting:
By: Angelo Bell

When the people behind a very popular Internet investment site for independent films told me that the cast for my film wasn't "international enough" I immediately recognized the stinkin' thinkin’ behind such a concept. With few exceptions, Hollywood doesn't believe international audiences will come out to see movies that don’t have Caucasian stars.

I guess these folks haven't heard of filmmakers like Spike Lee and Tyler Perry, or Anurag Kashyup, Nitin Kakkar, Ava Duvernay, or Guneet Monga. Perhaps they’ve never heard of the “Harold and Kumar” franchise. Have they heard of Bollywood, Nollywood, or the Chinese film market, which may overtake the American market by 2020? I guess they haven’t fully realized that the real world -- the whole wide world -- is essentially non-White.

But let’s not focus on vague impersonal sociological concepts. Let’s look at the reality of my casting choices:

• Ravi Kapoor – a UK-born Indian who starred in the TV series “Crossing Jordan” for several years.

• Alimi Ballard – an African-American, who starred in the hit series “Numb3rs” which played in over 70 countries, and who was recently cast in the international blockbuster hit, “Fast Five”

• Emayatzy Corinealdi – the dynamic Panamanian/African-American actress whose star continues to soar after her role in the Sundance hit and award-winning favorite, “Middle of Nowhere”

• Tehmina Sunny – the UK-born Indian actress who co-starred in the critically acclaimed Hollywood blockbuster hit, “Argo”

• Jessica Duffy – the star of the 2009 indie runaway hit, “Ink” which was reportedly downloaded 500,000 times from file-sharing sites all over the world.

Is there anything that isn’t international about this cast? There isn’t, but perception in Hollywood is a potential pitfall for all indie filmmakers.  As tough as it might be, we must stop adhering to this belief that there is a specific skin color to depict good vs. evil. Heroes and bad guys come in all shades, hues and temperaments. Anyone who routinely decides NOT to see a movie because the lead is something other than Caucasian is not the audience I want to reach out to. Hopefully my fellow indie filmmakers do the same, and continue with their efforts at color-blind casting.

The problem with unHollywood-like casting is that one must deal with the archaic and prejudiced perceptions of skin color. The potential of it is that the audience, which is a diverse melting pot of ethnicities, is exposed to the presence and culture of persons other than themselves. That is a beautiful thing if indeed we all desire to “get along.”

But Hollywood, despite its preachy Public Service Announcements for tolerance, still clings to racially motivated stereotypes and preconceived ideas about sexual preference. I do applaud the adventurous strides the entertainment community has made towards universal acceptance, but we are still a long way off.

We’ve started to accept the that fact that not every female movie star or TV star has to be a size 2, and not every leading man requires big arms and a six-pack. Now let’s look deeper into our own psyche and not focus on skin color as a casting requirement.

Angelo's Links:

1001 Positively True Stories (blog)

A Perfect Weapon (film): Indiegogo Page

Follow Angelo on Twitter


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