Don’t Be the Victim

20 Jun

As a woman, and as an ethnic woman (or should I say, ethnically ambiguous), creating an acting career in Hollywood can be a tougher objective than for other actors who are, well, male or white. Well, if you want to look at it that way that is…

I’ve found myself in many, great, intelligent, heated discussions about what it means to be a female writer/actor/producer/what-have-you in LA and also, what it means to be doing it when you’re not white. I think these are great, important conversations to have. In fact, I will be moderating a panel with different theater artists on just that — “Normalizing Diversity“–  during this year’s Hollywood Fringe. For you LA folks- it’s happening tomorrow at 3PM at Theatre of NOTE and I’m nervous as hell about it (I’m trying to push myself out of my box) so y’all better show up and support =) But, I digress. So I have a lot of these talks with fellow actors and, though I think it is always important to have a critical mind, I also think it can be dangerous to get stuck in this negative mind set if you let it paralyze you. Two weeks ago I talked about the lack of kick ass female roles in Hollywood. Browsing the front page of Moviefone to decide what movie to watch over the weekend, this was even more evident. Almost all of the films had a male protagonist or practically all male cast. Also, most of these casts were all white. And, of course, a slice of mainstream media would not be complete without a little classic objectification of women (see that nice feature up top “Summer’s Sexiest Women” including two girls licking the same ice cream cone? Gimme a break).

Let’s just have a mini roundup of the ones listed on Moviefone’s homepage, shall we?

Green Lantern
Director: dude
Writer: dude
Stars:  2 white dudes, 1 white girl

Mr. Popper’s Penguin’s
Director: dude
Writer: dude
Stars:  a white dude

Troll Hunter
Director: dude
Writer: that same dude
Stars:  white dude

The Art of Getting By
Director: dude
Writer: same dude
Stars: 1 white boy (protagonist), 1 white girl (supporting)

Super 8
Director: dude
Writer: same dude
Stars:  1 white boy (protagonist) his 3 white boy friends, his white dad, and, oh wait, there’s a girl he has to rescue! -1 white girl

Am I sensing a pattern? Now, let’s get this straight, all of these can be fine movies with fine actors. I’m not saying they are bad or shouldn’t have been made. BUT they do not represent our community as a whole- not here in LA, not in CA and certainly not in America. There are female writers and directors out here and there are a shit ton of diverse, talented actors here as well. The problem is not one film, or even these five films, but the sheer multitude of films (or plays for that matter) that get produced and put out to the mainstream that are just like these- the story of a white male by a white male.

Ok, that’s the critical mind part. Very important. We must be aware of the general market of the business we are in. And we should be watching the tv shows/films/websisodes/what have you that are getting made. HOWEVER, if I were to only look at it as “boo hoo, no female roles, no mixed-races, no parts for me!” then I’m in trouble. Because, well, let’s be honest here… no one was pulling my arm to be in this business. No one is making be do this. I CHOSE to be in it. I want to be an actor. So, what’s a half-Japanese-quarter-Hungarian-quarter-Irish-but-looks-Mexican gal to do?

Well, make my own work for one. I am completely in control of the parts I write, the work I produce, the way it is cast. It’s not very productive to just complain what isn’t available if I’m not making it available for myself. Yeah, I could say it’s too hard, too-this, too-that, but then, shit, I shouldn’t be doing this then. Career building IS hard. Acting or otherwise. And, second, patience. I know I’m not the only person who feels this way, so I will meet the others who do. As I continue to stay in this business I will meet like-minded people (already have) and collaborate with them, hear about their projects or their friend’s of friend’s projects or participate in workshop sessions for plays and movies where the producers and writers want to hear feedback and I can give my honest opinion and whether or not they take it in the end, little by little, my voice is getting heard in all of these different ways…

I’m in it for the long haul, so I might as well carve my own path.

4 Responses to “Don’t Be the Victim”

  1. Jen Weaver June 20, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    LOVE this! I say there are two things that ARE in our control. Developing our own work and making sure we are at the top of our game, whether that be auditions, writing, directing, whatever. I also have found there is a subtle but effective way to suggest to the white male-centric projects out there the different and interesting stories/casting. They are not the enemy just as much as we cannot let ourselves be the victim, and if we approach them in the right way, minds can change, slowly but surely.

    • Nathan June 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

      Great post! Keep those eyes sharp, keep making your own work, and project by project, this market will change.

      For example, all it took was “Bridesmaids” to create a feeding frenzy for female-driven comedies in Hollywood:

      • Nina Harada June 20, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

        Thanks, Nate! And thank you for making films like Another Life!
        Yes, thank god Bridesmaids was able to break through!

    • Nina Harada June 20, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

      Thanks, Jen! I totally agree- those are things we definitely have in our control and little by little we can make a change…