Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Latino, a Phillipino and a Korean Walk Into A Theater

It’s not until a Latino, a Phillipino and a Korean are all standing before you in a black box theatre in the heart of LA, that you realize the racism in Hollywood. And don’t tell me “But there was that movie Crash! — and it like totally won an Oscar!”. No, I don’t buy it.

First of all, that’s a movie that was talking about racism, not a movie that simply exemplified diversity in casting. Second, it constantly bashed you over the head with the message “Racism Bad. Equality Good”. And, third, the Asian community was completely underrepresented.

In fact, I was just reading an article on the Latina actress, Eva Mendez, in Interview magazine, where she was asked if it’s hard being a Latin woman in Hollywood. She answered, not really, that she felt more sorry for the Asian actors who are practically non-existent in the grand scheme of the entertainment world - except of course for "Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift".

So, back to the black box. The show was called “New Traditions” and the group, hereandnow Theatre Company. It was a breath of fresh air. The ensemble-driven show consisted of 15 original and wildly entertaining pieces with an emphasis on telling stories of all cultures and backgrounds. And yet it managed to avoid the sometimes-inevitable cheese factor when showing ethnic and cultural diversity. From a piece entitled “The Woodcutter” based on an old Korean folktale, to a piece entitled “Again” where a young Japanese girl is misunderstood by her naïve and bullying English-speaking classmates.

Cut to yesterday, when I spent the majority of my time on set for my first commercial, where, yes, everyone was white. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed white. Everyone, but me. It was so glaringly obvious, especially coming off the high from working with such a wonderful and diverse group of actors in a truly inspiring show. Now, I’m not saying we need someone from Mexico, China and Korea for every commercial, tv show or play. (Or even that these things need to inspire you every time). But it would sure be nice to see it more than we do. Or, at least realize that we’re missing out.


McMath said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Nina. You're right, situations like that can be trying sometimes. Hope things are generally going well, though.

nina said...

Thanks John! Yeah, just the nature of the business right? Things are definitely interesting down here! I hope to have more to report on =)

GenEric said...

Well said homegirl. Wait, you're not white?