Photo: Via @hollis_jane
Hollis Jane is a little-person actress based in Los Angeles. She's also one of the people who was hired to perform as a backup dancer with Miley Cyrus at the VMAs, and says she felt that she was treated more like a prop than a person.
Hollis was prompted to write her piece after friends pointed out that Cyrus employed a little-person guitarist during her musical numbers on last week's Saturday Night Live. While some lauded Cyrus' choice to prominently feature a little person in a real role, Jane felt it didn't quite make up for her negative VMA experience.
"I was a bear in Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance," Jane writes on her blog. "And it was my first time doing anything like that…anything where I was being used because of my height, not because of my talent. And I will be the first one to tell you that standing on that stage, in that costume was one of the most degrading things I felt like I could ever do. I realize not everyone shares my opinion and I might just be young and naive, but I feel like the acceptance of this kind of treatment has got to stop."
The VMAs, says Jane, was a pivotal moment, because, "for the first time I felt truly ashamed of being a little person. We were being used simply because we were little. It felt like society still saw us as a joke, despite the fact there is literally nothing different about me other than the fact [that] I am small. ... We can all agree that right now, all Miley Cyrus wants to do is make society’s jaw drop. So what’s more “weird” or “freaky” than having little people parading around in your show?" After performing at the VMAs, Jane felt so deeply dehumanized by the experience, that she "walked out of the Barclay Center shaking and crying."
It was this feeling that she returned to a few weeks later, when Cyrus' management team called to offer her a position on Miley's world tour. She turned them down.
Jane is hoping that people reading her blog will begin to understand the difficulties that little people face when it comes to breaking into the entertainment industry and getting real roles. "Not only am I attempting to break into an impossible industry, but I am trying to do it with what some may consider a huge disadvantage. For decades, little people have not been taken seriously and we still continue to not be. As an actress, I am presented with maybe 2% of the 'real' auditions that my average-height actress friends are presented with."
Jane's entire essay is worth reading. It's a reminder that certain kinds of discrimination, ridicule, and objectification are still considered perfectly acceptable. And not only acceptable, but "entertainment." (Holliseum)