Anyone who's paying any attention at all to the film and TV industries knows that Hollywood has a serious lack of diversity. Studies have proven female directors are rarely chosen for big budget films, and the average moviegoer can clearly see there aren't nearly enough people of color on screen. But in a recent New York Times piece, women and people of color who have "made it" in Hollywood reveal the struggles they've gone through to show that there should be a place for them at the table.
Mindy Kaling, star and showrunner of her own successful sitcom, talked about discovering she wasn't a top choice to play the character based on herself. "When I got hired on The Office, at the same time I wrote a pilot with my best friend, called “Mindy and Brenda,” based on our experiences. They were trying to audition my part, which I wanted to play, and at first they [looked for] Indian-American actresses, and when they couldn’t find any, they opened up to more generically Middle Eastern actresses. Still couldn’t find any, until at the end, they’re like, “We’ll look for a white woman.” That was heartbreaking for so many reasons," she says. She did go on to explain she thought showrunners today would look harder for a Indian-American actress.
Eva Longoria, currently starring on Telenovela, revealed she was often considered not "Latina enough" during auditions, explaining,"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. He decided I should [have] darker-colored skin. The gatekeepers are not usually people of color, so they don’t understand you should be looking for way more colors of the rainbow within that one ethnicity."
And sometimes the struggle wasn't just to get on-screen as a woman of color, but a woman without the typical "Hollywood body." As Queen Latifah says, "The discussion came up when we were doing [the TV series] Living Single that [the cast needs] to lose weight. [My manager] Shakim would get the call, and it would be laughter by the time it got to me, because there’s no way. I felt I represented a woman out there who should get to see somebody who weighs about as much as she does."