Editorial Staff

“I See Black People”: Why Is the Entertainment Industry So Scared to Put People of Color on Screen?

I know we’re all basking in the glow of celebration now that new shows of ABC’s Scandal and the web series Awkward Black Girl are coming back, but still…Hollywood is majorly afraid to put black people on-screen.

When Black British director Steve McQueen was casting for his movie Shame, which features the easy-on-the-eyes Irish actor Michael Fassbender as the lead, he wanted to cast a black woman as one of Fassbender’s love interest. But some folks attempted to argue with McQueen by saying “that wouldn’t happen”–meaning that a black woman and Fassbenders’ character would never hook-up in real life.

Now comes word that James Patterson, bestselling author, was advised by a studio head to change the lead character of his popular series of books based on the fiction character of a black forensic psychologist to a white man: “Alex Cross has to be a white man. Do a fast rewrite,” said the studio honcho. Luckily Patterson knew better and now an upcoming screen adaption of the books will feature actor, writer, director Tyler Perry.

Will Smith rocked the box office Memorial Day weekend with Men In Black III, and Samuel L. Jackson, the highest-grossing actor of all-time, just played ‘Nick L. Fury’–a role originally written as an Italian man–in the box-office busting The Avengers. Despite all this, some folks in the boardrooms of the major television studios still labor under the erroneous belief that seeing black people on the big screen will scare audiences away. (For the moment, lets ignore the racist idiots who outed themselves during the ‘Rue’ fiasco.)

What will it take for Hollywood to understand that black actors and actresses can bring in the big bucks at the box office?

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