Hollywood heavyweight Shonda Rhimes nearly detonated when a rabidly racist and reckless article complaining about “too much diversity” was published on Tuesday.
Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva compiled a contrived piece that accuses television casting directors of taking “ethnic” casting way too far. The title of the article alone is problematic: “Pilots 2015: The Year Of Ethnic Castings – About Time Or Too Much Of Good Thing?”
Rhimes, the titan of television after she created the blockbuster series “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away With Murder,” tweeted in response:
“1st Reaction: HELL NO. Lemme take off my earrings, somebody hold my purse! 2nd Reaction: Article is so ignorant I can’t even be bothered.”
In the piece, Andreeva states that after years of too-few roles for actors of color in Hollywood, “the pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction.”
Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal. Many pilot characters this year were listed as open to all ethnicities, but when reps would call to inquire about an actor submission, they frequently have been told that only non-Caucasian actors would be considered. “Basically 50% of the roles in a pilot have to be ethnic, and the mandate goes all the way down to guest parts,” one talent representative said.
Andreeva also wrote:
While they are among the most voracious and loyal TV viewers, African-Americans still represent only 13% of the U.S. population. They were grossly underserved, but now, with shows as ‘Empire,’ ‘Black-ish,’ ‘Scandal’ and ‘HTGAWM’ on broadcast, Tyler Perry’s fare on OWN and Mara Brock Akil’s series on BET, they have scripted choices, so the growth in that fraction of the TV audience might have reached its peak.
The article was a trending topic on Twitter for several hours after it was posted Tuesday evening. “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, retweeted Rhimes’ remark, as did more than 600 people who found absurd the notion that Hollywood was now overcompensating by becoming too diverse.
Numerous television industry journalists commented negatively on the piece, including The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum, who called it “the grossest possible reaction to a breakthrough TV year.” Dave Itzkoff, who frequently writes for The New York Times, tweeted: “Just astounding that something so tone deaf could be published in 2015 by a supposedly credible news source.”
Twitter also blasted the article’s author and the magazine for publishing such a blatantly anti-black rant.