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Reblogged from allerasphinx  964 notes

My inaugural year on Grey’s Anatomy was defined by two points: my character’s boyfriend and the episode when said relationship began. For the audience, the episode is noteworthy because it features a classic spectacles-to-contacts, curly-to-straight transformation. For myself it’s noteworthy because, even after Carol’s Daughter in Sephora, I Am Not My Hair on Billboard’s Hot 100 and decades of mop-headed kids in GAP commercials, the public still goes batshit over bone-straight hair on a black woman.

After the episode aired, the praise I received from strangers, friends and even my own family was staggering. I suddenly had mass-appeal and the undertone was clear: with a single blow-dry, I had arrived.

What was intended as flattery was profoundly insulting and it hurt me deeply to realize my natural form wasn’t considered feminine or desirable.

The response ignited that same young rebellion I had all those years ago. My hair had graduated from the purview of my parents to become of direct concern to the masses and, in both cases, no one considered the effect on the person at the center.

By

Jerrika Hinton in Creating A Center Part

She plays Stephanie Edwards (the Black female intern) on Grey’s Anatomy. I follow her on here and twitter and remember when this episode aired, she posted something along the lines of funny how a little hair straightening changes everything (paraphrasing). I knew then that she was one of my faves…so glad she went through with writing this up.

(via christel-thoughts)

We, the marginalized, all have some version of that story. You know the one: When I grew up, I never saw people like me in magazines/on TV/in books/in movies. This is how I learned that my skin color/eye shape/hair/nose/culture/sexuality/identity/entire self is peripheral to the rest of the United States. Our country projects to the world an image of white heteronormativity, an image that was never true, and becomes more ridiculous as we progress through the 21stcentury.

So when I first watched “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell,” I couldn’t believe it actually existed. As a real show. On a TV channel. With a set and everything. This contradicted everything I knew about the world: Black men who do comedy criticizing catcalling, anti-Muslim bias and homophobia do not get a national megaphone.

And it wasn’t just Kamau, as if one black man over 6 feet tall plus another 4 inches of ’fro weren’t enough. No, there were more black guys, one with dreds all the way down to here, a couple of desis and a lesbian woman with soft butch style. A Japanese guy! A gay man! And not as caricatures written by other people, but as themselves doing their own jokes! About their own lives! Suddenly, my screen resembled my reality, and it was blowing my mind: These were my people!

Every time I watched “Totally Biased,” I felt like I was watching history, a revolution in television. I laughed my ass off, but I was also in awe. For the first time in my life, it was like someone was writing TV for me.

Except I wasn’t watching it on television, but on my laptop like, I’m told, many of us do these days. Because Internet in my household is a necessity, but between a mortgage and preschool tuition, cable TV is a luxury we can’t afford. We do “new media” by default. So once a week after the kids were in bed, my husband and I settled down with cookies and bourbon to stream “Totally Biased.”

By

 on the cancellation of the TV show Totally Biased with W Kamau Bell.

What is certain is that a show like “Totally Biased” is a huge risk. The content and the cast place it far outside most of what mainstream American audiences have seen before. But as America’s demographics shift, the audience for a show that tackles issues of race, gender, class, immigration and sexuality is only going to grow. So why place the show in a weakened position? The transition from a weekly show to a nightly show would surely make for an uneven performance as everyone adapted to a more demanding schedule. Why put it out of reach for many in the core audience as well as making it harder for new viewers to find it?

So when I saw the news via Facebook yesterday that “Totally Biased” had been canceled, the sinking in my chest wasn’t completely unexpected. According to Splitsider, the show’s ratings had dropped after the move to FXX. The article included this tidbit: “On some nights, ‘Totally Biased’ has been the lowest-rated late night show on cable, mostly thanks to FXX being available in 26 million fewer homes than FX.”

I hardly feel surprised that “Totally Biased” is the first cancelation for FXX. I hardly feel surprised that executives decided to cancel it rather than roll it back to one night a week or return it to FX. I hardly feel surprised that those executives blame the show for poor ratings rather than their ill-conceived strategy.

But I do feel sharp disappointment and anger.

W. Kamau Bell and the “Totally Biased” crew showed us that another television is possible. We don’t have to go back; we can keep pushing forward for TV that includes the authentic voices of people of color, LGBT people and women, made for us by us. But to do that, we have to raise hell about the cancellation of “Totally Biased.” FXX’s story is that this kind of TV won’t sell. We have to prove them wrong.

Reblogged from laffbending  5,606 notes

I honestly never imagined I would actually get to do this. No, like seriously. I never imagined as a black, African-American 20-something, I would be able to do this. You just don’t see it. It’s just not a reality. When they called me in, I read it and I was like, “Okay, cool, this is great.” I never saw myself as someone who would be able to tote a gun and be also in a fantasy piece, but I welcome it with open arms because I grew up on comic books and action films… I love those things, but I’ve never seen myself as a representative. So hats f***ing off, hats off to Bob and Alex and Fox for saying, “We’re going to cast this girl as the gun toting apocalyptic crusader and witness.” It’s amazing.

By Nicole Beharie re: the character Abbie Mills and Sleepy Hollow (x)
Lee and Low books continues to produce awesome infographics and interviews on diversity gaps in Hollywood.  In this infographic, they identified facts such as the following:
No woman of color has ever won an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series
In the last twenty years, winners in the Best Director of a Comedy Series were 100% white and 95% male
An African American woman has not been nominated for lead actress in a Comedy Series since The Cosby Show (1986)
Lee and Low also interviewed actor/writers Luisa Leschin and Kelvin Yu about their experiences in Hollywood to accompany the infographic.   Check it out here!  You can also look at their previous infographics on the Tony Awards and Children’s Publishing!

Lee and Low books continues to produce awesome infographics and interviews on diversity gaps in Hollywood.  In this infographic, they identified facts such as the following:

  • No woman of color has ever won an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series
  • In the last twenty years, winners in the Best Director of a Comedy Series were 100% white and 95% male
  • An African American woman has not been nominated for lead actress in a Comedy Series since The Cosby Show (1986)

Lee and Low also interviewed actor/writers Luisa Leschin and Kelvin Yu about their experiences in Hollywood to accompany the infographic.   Check it out here!  You can also look at their previous infographics on the Tony Awards and Children’s Publishing!

asianamericanfilmlab:

ABC’s Head of Casting Keli Lee Provides Opportunities for Minority Actors of Color

by ADA TSENG
For everyone who’s grateful for the recent rise of minority non-white faces on American television, it’s important to note that behind every Sandra Oh inGrey’s Anatomy, every Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Jorge Garcia and Naveen Andrews in Lost, is a casting director responsible for pairing these actors with the unforgettable roles that will go down in television history.
Keli Lee, who has been casting TV shows at ABC for more than 20 years, was on her way to law school when she landed a fortuitous college internship that introduced her to the entertainment casting industry. In her first week working for Phyllis Huffman, who often did casting for Clint Eastwood’s films, Lee operated the video camera that captured the auditions for the Academy Award-winning 1992 filmUnforgiven. From there, she eventually worked her way up the ladder, and as Executive Vice President of Casting at ABC, Lee now has a corner office with a view and spends her days looking for the next new star.
Born in South Korea, Lee moved to the States as a toddler, and while her father stayed behind in Korea for work, her adventurous, road trip-loving mother would move her young kids to a new state every six or seven months on a whim.
“Up until I was 13, I never started or finished the same school, so I met thousands of people from around the country,” says Lee. “It forced me to socialize and understand people, and ultimately I think that’s how I got to be good at what I do. I’m searching for people and learning about their emotional core.”
For Lee, more important than finding a good-looking specimen or skilled thespian is determining whether the actor is authentic.
“I think within the first 10 seconds of meeting someone, you can get a sense of a person,” says Lee. “You know whether you want to continue to watch them.”
Twelve years ago, Lee started the ABC Casting Department’s Talent Showcase with the goal of providing more opportunities for minority actors of color who either don’t have representation or aren’t even aware of the opportunities available. Since its inception, 14,000 people have auditioned, and 432 actors have participated in 30 showcases, with winners earning mentorships.
Beneficiaries of this program include Liza Lapira (Crazy Stupid Love,Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23), Carrie Ann Inaba (Dancing with the Stars), Aaron Yoo (Disturbia, 21), Archie Kao (CSI), Randall Park (Larry Crowne, The Five-Year Engagement), and Janina Gavankar (True Blood, The L Word).
In the upcoming fall season on ABC, TV audiences can look out for Ming-Na Wen and Chloe Wang Bennet in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Liza Lapira inSuper Fun Night,Ginger Gonzaga inMixology, Summer Bishil in Lucky 7, and Albert Tsai inTrophy Wife.
“My goal is to change the face of television,” says Lee. “When I came to the U.S. at age 2, there wasn’t much diversity on television, and now, it’s such a different time.”
***
On how she ended up in the casting industry:“Like most Korean American families, entertainment [as a career] was not an option. It was the stereotype, ‘Are you going to be a doctor or a lawyer?’ So, I had planned to go to law school, I was studying philosophy at NYU, and I was a hostess at Caroline’s Comedy Club, so it was the comedians who introduced me to the world of entertainment. I actually fell into this business. I got an internship in casting and worked my way up, while I went to school full time at NYU. First, I worked at Warner Brothers, and then I went to ABC, where I’ve been for 21 years.”
On starting ABC Casting Department’s Talent Showcase to find diverse talent:“Twelve years ago, we were talking about diversity and thinking about how we can provide more opportunities for diverse actors, so I started this showcase program to give exposure and training to actors who either don’t have the representation or aren’t even aware of the opportunities that exist. After my team auditions the actors, we select the top 15 to 20, and we put them through this training program. Usually you have material, and you find people to play the characters, but this is the reverse: we find the right actors and then try to find the right material for them. Some of the actors who’ve gone through this program that we’re excited about are: Liza Lapira, who was onDon’t Trust The B—- in Apt 23, Jorge Garcia fromLost, Dania Ramirez fromDevious Maids, and Jesse Williams onGrey’s Anatomy.”
On their first digital talent competition this summer:“This is new. We’re the first network to launch a digital talent competition. We had over 14,000 submissions, we’re having a public vote, and the winner will be announced on Aug. 30. The winner gets $10,000 and a talent option hold with ABC. Just based on the submissions, I’m excited to be able to find new faces. These are actors from around the country, they are coming from everywhere, from Florida to Alabama, and it’s really great to hear some of their stories.”
On the Latino and Asian Outreach Initiatives:“This is international. We started this program last year. For the Latino Outreach, we targeted Mexico, Latin America and Spain, and I’m excited to say that one of actors we found in first year of the Latino Outreach Initiative, Adan Canto, was cast as series regular in Mixology. The Asian Outreach Initiative started in India, and we just expanded to the Philippines this year.”
Who influences you?“I have an amazing circle of really strong, smart, successful female friends, and we feed off that positive energy and help each other out. That’s part of what I do in my profession, I’m helping people realize their dreams, and that’s what we do for each other. I often have these conversations with my girlfriends, where I wish I had women as role models or mentors, so now that we’re in our positions, we think, how can we help empower other women and be role models for them? All these female pioneers paved the way for us, so how can we pave the way for other women?”

Slight edits, since the term “minority” is inaccurate and offensive. Wonderful interview with an industry professional who is making big change. If you’re an actor (or writer, or director), do check out the diversity initiatives of major studios. ABC, FOX, CBS, and Disney all have talent showcases and other opportunities that could be that break you need. It never hurts to put yourself out there and take a chance!

asianamericanfilmlab:

ABC’s Head of Casting Keli Lee Provides Opportunities for Minority Actors of Color

by ADA TSENG

For everyone who’s grateful for the recent rise of minority non-white faces on American television, it’s important to note that behind every Sandra Oh inGrey’s Anatomy, every Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Jorge Garcia and Naveen Andrews in Lost, is a casting director responsible for pairing these actors with the unforgettable roles that will go down in television history.

Keli Lee, who has been casting TV shows at ABC for more than 20 years, was on her way to law school when she landed a fortuitous college internship that introduced her to the entertainment casting industry. In her first week working for Phyllis Huffman, who often did casting for Clint Eastwood’s films, Lee operated the video camera that captured the auditions for the Academy Award-winning 1992 filmUnforgiven. From there, she eventually worked her way up the ladder, and as Executive Vice President of Casting at ABC, Lee now has a corner office with a view and spends her days looking for the next new star.

Born in South Korea, Lee moved to the States as a toddler, and while her father stayed behind in Korea for work, her adventurous, road trip-loving mother would move her young kids to a new state every six or seven months on a whim.

“Up until I was 13, I never started or finished the same school, so I met thousands of people from around the country,” says Lee. “It forced me to socialize and understand people, and ultimately I think that’s how I got to be good at what I do. I’m searching for people and learning about their emotional core.”

For Lee, more important than finding a good-looking specimen or skilled thespian is determining whether the actor is authentic.

“I think within the first 10 seconds of meeting someone, you can get a sense of a person,” says Lee. “You know whether you want to continue to watch them.”

Twelve years ago, Lee started the ABC Casting Department’s Talent Showcase with the goal of providing more opportunities for minority actors of color who either don’t have representation or aren’t even aware of the opportunities available. Since its inception, 14,000 people have auditioned, and 432 actors have participated in 30 showcases, with winners earning mentorships.

Beneficiaries of this program include Liza Lapira (Crazy Stupid Love,Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23), Carrie Ann Inaba (Dancing with the Stars), Aaron Yoo (Disturbia, 21), Archie Kao (CSI), Randall Park (Larry Crowne, The Five-Year Engagement), and Janina Gavankar (True Blood, The L Word).

In the upcoming fall season on ABC, TV audiences can look out for Ming-Na Wen and Chloe Wang Bennet in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Liza Lapira inSuper Fun Night,Ginger Gonzaga inMixology, Summer Bishil in Lucky 7, and Albert Tsai inTrophy Wife.

“My goal is to change the face of television,” says Lee. “When I came to the U.S. at age 2, there wasn’t much diversity on television, and now, it’s such a different time.”

***

On how she ended up in the casting industry:
“Like most Korean American families, entertainment [as a career] was not an option. It was the stereotype, ‘Are you going to be a doctor or a lawyer?’ So, I had planned to go to law school, I was studying philosophy at NYU, and I was a hostess at Caroline’s Comedy Club, so it was the comedians who introduced me to the world of entertainment. I actually fell into this business. I got an internship in casting and worked my way up, while I went to school full time at NYU. First, I worked at Warner Brothers, and then I went to ABC, where I’ve been for 21 years.”

On starting ABC Casting Department’s Talent Showcase to find diverse talent:
“Twelve years ago, we were talking about diversity and thinking about how we can provide more opportunities for diverse actors, so I started this showcase program to give exposure and training to actors who either don’t have the representation or aren’t even aware of the opportunities that exist. After my team auditions the actors, we select the top 15 to 20, and we put them through this training program. Usually you have material, and you find people to play the characters, but this is the reverse: we find the right actors and then try to find the right material for them. Some of the actors who’ve gone through this program that we’re excited about are: Liza Lapira, who was onDon’t Trust The B—- in Apt 23, Jorge Garcia fromLost, Dania Ramirez fromDevious Maids, and Jesse Williams onGrey’s Anatomy.”

On their first digital talent competition this summer:
“This is new. We’re the first network to launch a digital talent competition. We had over 14,000 submissions, we’re having a public vote, and the winner will be announced on Aug. 30. The winner gets $10,000 and a talent option hold with ABC. Just based on the submissions, I’m excited to be able to find new faces. These are actors from around the country, they are coming from everywhere, from Florida to Alabama, and it’s really great to hear some of their stories.”

On the Latino and Asian Outreach Initiatives:
“This is international. We started this program last year. For the Latino Outreach, we targeted Mexico, Latin America and Spain, and I’m excited to say that one of actors we found in first year of the Latino Outreach Initiative, Adan Canto, was cast as series regular in Mixology. The Asian Outreach Initiative started in India, and we just expanded to the Philippines this year.”

Who influences you?
“I have an amazing circle of really strong, smart, successful female friends, and we feed off that positive energy and help each other out. That’s part of what I do in my profession, I’m helping people realize their dreams, and that’s what we do for each other. I often have these conversations with my girlfriends, where I wish I had women as role models or mentors, so now that we’re in our positions, we think, how can we help empower other women and be role models for them? All these female pioneers paved the way for us, so how can we pave the way for other women?”

Slight edits, since the term “minority” is inaccurate and offensive. Wonderful interview with an industry professional who is making big change. If you’re an actor (or writer, or director), do check out the diversity initiatives of major studios. ABC, FOX, CBS, and Disney all have talent showcases and other opportunities that could be that break you need. It never hurts to put yourself out there and take a chance!

Reblogged from stfu-moffat  13,054 notes

tvhangover:

My plan wasn’t just to show it to executives, but to show it to the world so that the people could have a voice in this as well.” -Lena Waithe

I’m sure many of you have seen people talking about Lena Waithe recently and perhaps you’ve seen some of the other work she’s done (Dear White People). Maybe you haven’t - you should change that. I watched the four part pilot presentation and it wasn’t until the fourth part that I was completely sold. Now don’t confuse that statement, I really loved and laughed at the first three parts, but it’s (intentionally) in the fourth part where we see the heart of the show, the honesty, the realness. 

Waithe wrote & created TWENTIES, a single camera comedy about three black women in their twenties, and shopped it around to networks.

A lot of networks read the script and loved it, but they either thought there wasn’t an audience for it or that it already existed. Of course I became extremely frustrated because I knew neither of those things were true. So I realized I had to show these network executives that TWENTIES was one of a kind and that there was nothing on TV like it. And I figured the best way to do that was to shoot a pilot presentation, which meant we would shoot a few pivotal scenes from the script, edit them together, and give people a sense of how the show would look and feel. Lucky for me, Justin Simien (writer/director DEAR WHITE PEOPLE) offered to direct it and Flavor Unit was willing to pay for it. Now I had the opportunity to show people what I was going for instead of trying to explain it to them. My plan wasn’t just to show it to executives, but to show it to the world so that the people could have a voice in this as well. And just so we’re clear: this is not a web series! I repeat this is not a web series. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing a web series. I’ve done one. My goal is to partner with a network that understands what I’m going for.

Spread the word about this show.

The good news is I don’t want your money. There’s no Kickstarter or IndieGoGo attached to this project. All we want you to do is commit to sharing TWENTIES with twenty of your friends. The more you spread the word the better chance we have of getting it on TV. We’ll keep pitching. You keep sharing. Let’s do this!

Click through to watch.

Reblogged from jordanwritenow  245 notes

New York City: The whitewash effect

jordanwritenow:

I was thinking about the time I visited NYC a few years ago and how I came away with the revelation that there was so much diversity.  In one subway car I would see so many different people with different ethnic backgrounds; it was amazing.  Why was I so surprised?  White washing.  The older I get, the more I see how apparent it is.  The shows based in New York City that I watch have predominantly white casts.  Why is that? 

Sadly, there are only a few exceptions of shows that either have recurring characters or stars that are something other than white:

30 Rock, Law and Order, The Mindy Project, The Cosby Show, The Jeffersons, Diff’rent Strokes, Everybody Hates Chris, and Ugly Betty. 

Of course these are only a sample of the shows based in New York City, but they’re enough to help my point.  New York City is insanely terribly misrepresented on TV.  I’m not the first to criticize this error in television; I just hope we all see this and want it to change. 

Good points (edited slightly for ableist language, though)

    Answer:

    This was actually addressed in an Ask earlier today.

    Again, Scandal is the first network primetime TV drama with a black female lead character since 1974.

    I understand that it can be shocking to hear about a four generation representation disparity and that the impulse is to try and find exceptions to disprove this. But I think there is specific intention behind how ABC and the showrunners of Scandal have decided to bring out this particular statistic.

    A) Dramas are not the same as sitcoms like The Cosby Show, The Jeffersons, and That’s So Raven. It has always been easier for actors of color to break into comedic type roles compared to serious drama roles due to the history of minstrely, entertainment and other societal forces. Don’t get me wrong, The Cosby Show, The Jeffersons, and That’s So Raven are extremely significant series because they humanized and provided complex portrayals of people of color. But sitcoms are not the same as dramas, which is why, for example, industry awards like the Emmys have two separate categories.

    B) The Cosby Show and The Jeffersons both had male leads. Scandal is different because the lead is a woman. Historically and currently, men of color are more likely to be depicted as the lead protagonist instead of the partner/love interest of the lead protagonist or as a supporting cast member. Scandal is different because Kerry Washington’s character is unequivocally the show’s lead protagonist.

    C) That’s So Raven features a woman of color as a lead protagonist. However, it was not a network show (it was a cable show) and it was not prime time programming (it was technically children’s programming; also a different Emmy category.)

    In short, to have a network+prime time+drama+ woc lead is still a major accomplishment indeed. And a long time coming.

    guppyfighter asked
    Please stop flaunting your ignorance. Just look up mademenoire and they have a nice article with *some* of the best black female leads.

    Answer:

    Guppyfighter also submitted an ask stating “It is statically 12 percent. Stop being so shortsighted.”

    Disparities in representation of people of color in the television industry (not to mention the film industry) are pretty well documented by a number of different invested entities including the Writers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, the NAACP, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

    Brief examples from 5 minutes of Googling:

    • The DGA reported that in 2011-12, women of color directed only 4% of all scripted episodic television.
    • In 2011 the WGA reported that only 10% of TV writers were people of color.
    • GLAAD reports that in 2011-12, 78% of regular broadcast characters were White, 10% are Black, 6% are Latino/a, 4% are Asian/Pacific Islander and 2% are counted as “other.”

    None of these statistics account for the quality of the roles, only the quantity (eg. I remember an Asian American media advocate noting to me that FOX proudly tried to present Jenna Ushkowitz as an “Asian American lead on Glee,” as if Ushkowitz’s character had equal screen time or importance as Lea Michele’s character.)

    I don’t believe that talking about these disparities is “ignorant”or “shortsighted,” and I certainly don’t think we should stop these conversations if and when diversity improves to match census statistics.

    (Also, FYI: according to the latest population estimates from the US Census Bureau, the estimated percentage of Americans who are black or African American (not including people who are mixed race) is 13.1%, not 12%.)