Straight, white dudes have it easier than most.
The New York Times published an article titled “What It’s Really Like to Work in Hollywood* (*If you’re not a straight white man.),” which features 27 writers, actors, producers, and directors talking about their experiences with diversity in Hollywood. In it, everyone from Eva Longoria toQueen Latifah speak out about the lack of representation of woman and minorities in the industry.
Their personal revelations are evidence that there’s still a lot of work to be done. For example, during the commercial shoot, a director asked America Ferrera to “sound more Latino” the next time she read the line. Below are highlights from the incredibly powerful article.
Eva Longoria: “I didn’t speak Spanish [growing up]. I’m ninth generation. I mean, I’m as American as apple pie. I’m very proud of my heritage. But I remember moving to L.A. and auditioning and not being Latin enough for certain roles. Some white male casting director was dictating what it meant to be Latin. He decided I needed an accent.”
America Ferrara: “I was 18 and putting myself on tape for a movie I really wanted. I got that phone call: They cast a Latino male in another role in the film; they’re not looking to cast [a Latina]. So I defiantly bleached my hair blond, painted my face white and made the audition tape. I never heard back. I just remember feeling so powerless. What do you do when someone says, “Your color skin is not what we’re looking for?”
Priyanka Chopra: “At an event, I remember this girl hugged me and started crying. She said, ‘Thank you for making us relevant.’ It gives me goose bumps every time I think about it.“
Julia Roberts: “I remember my first meeting with the producers on Erin Brockovich, before Steven Soderbergh came onto it, and saying, ‘This scene where she’s shimmying down a well in a micromini? I can’t do that.’ [They said], ‘But that’s really what happened.’ And I go, ‘I know, but once you make it a movie, you have to re-examine, what’s the function of this scene?’ I didn’t feel I was being fully understood.”
Ken Jeong: “A U.C.L.A. acting professor gave me good marks in my performance and [said]: ‘You’re a good actor, which is why I’m telling you, stay the hell out of L.A. There’s not much of a future for you. Go to Asia.’ I got an A. He was saying that out of respect.”
Queen Latifah: “We once had a meeting with a guy, I won’t say the company. [She and I were] dressed to the nines. We talked about sports, politics, everything, and this man had the nerve to say, “When is your manager going to get here?” because he expected some middle-aged white guy. I [charged] him 10 times more than I was going to.
Read the full article over at the New York Times.