The Academy’s New Class is 39% Female and 30% POC

Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover, Naomie Harris, and John Cho (The Hollywood Reporter)

Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover, Naomie Harris, and John Cho (The Hollywood Reporter)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently announced its new class of members. The 2017 class numbers 744, which is a new record. This breaks the 2016 number of invitees at 683, which had previously held the record.

This new class might also hold the distinction of being the most diverse (so far). Of the 744 members, 39% are women and 30% are people of color (POC).

Here’s how the new class will influence the gender makeup of the Academy:

Overall Female Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Overall Female Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Notable women invited include “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot, comedian Amy Poehler, and French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

POC comprise 39% of this year’s class. Here’s what that looks like with respect to the Academy’s full voting body:

People of Color in Overall Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

People of Color in Overall Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Notable POC invitees include Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key of “Key & Peele,” Indian actor Salman Khan, and Hong Kong actor Tony Leung.

Of course, there’s a lot of intersectionality happening for women of color (WOC). Prominent WOC in this year’s Academy class include Priyanka Chopra, Sanaa Lathan, and Nazanin Boniadi.

The Academy’s new class is part of an effort to increase the numbers of women and POC members by 2020.

Hopefully the new influx of fresh faces and perspectives will allow more diverse and inclusive narratives to come to the forefront, and prevent another #OscarsSoWhite fiasco.

 

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Trends: Interracial Couples on Broadcast TV, 2010-2015, Part 1

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) in 'Scandal' (EW.com)

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) in ‘Scandal’ (EW.com)

Fall TV is back! Ready for your favorite shows to return? Some of the cable companies have already begun to premiere new seasons of their fall shows, and now it’s time for the Big Four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) to follow suit.

The primetime premieres of shows new and old start this week, and it’s always interesting to see how much diversity makes it onto our screens. I was curious to see if the incidence of interracial couples on the Big Four networks had risen over the past five years (since trends are a bit slower to infiltrate there). I looked at incoming shows (i.e. those that started with pilots), and didn’t count returning ones. I was mainly looking for romantic couples, but noted platonic ones and love interests as well.

Part 1 explores the findings, and Part 2 (which will be published tomorrow) will show change-over-time trends with tables and graphs.

And now to the findings:

2010-2011:

Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) in 'Happy Endings' (Oh No They Didn't)

Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) in ‘Happy Endings’ (Oh No They Didn’t)

ABC: 3 shows/4 couples

  • Happy Endings: African-American man Brad Williams (Damon Wayans Jr.) is married to white woman Jane Kerkovich-Williams (Eliza Coupe).
  • My Generation: White guy Steven Foster (Michael Stahl-David) had a one-night-stand with Caroline Chung (Annie Son) in high school, which resulted in a child. Also, African-American Rolly Marks (Mehcad Brooks) is married to Dawn Barbuso (Kelli Garner), who’s white.
  • Off The Map: African-American man Dr. Otis Cole (Jason Winston George) has a relationship with Latina Zee Toledo Alvarez (Valeria Cruz).

CBS: 0 shows

For shame, CBS.

Fox: 1 show/0 couples

  • Breaking In: Melanie Garcia (Odette Annable) was the love interest to white guy Cameron Price (Bret Harrison).

NBC: 1 show/0 couples

  • Outsourced: The show implied a future between white Todd Dempsy (Ben Rappaport) and Indian woman Asha (Rebecca Hazlewood).

 

2011-2012:

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) in 'Scandal' (New York Post)

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) in ‘Scandal’ (New York Post)

ABC: 1 shows/1 couple

  • Scandal: Washington fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) starts/continues (spoiler?) a relationship with President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn).

CBS: 1 show/1 couple

  • Rob: White guy (Rob Schneider) marries Maggie (Claudia Bassols), and gets to know her Mexican-American family. (Incidentally, Schneider isn’t completely white, but is of partial Filipino descent.)

Fox: 2 shows/1 couple

  • I Hate My Teenage Daughter: White woman Nikki Miller (Kate Finneran) raises her biracial daughter Mackenzie (Aisha Dee), with help from her ex-husband Gary (Chad L. Coleman).
  • Touch: Kiefer Sutherland and British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s characters’ relationship was strictly platonic.

NBC: 0 shows

This was the second season in a row that the network had no shows with interracial couples.

 

2012-2013:

Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Casey (Anders Holm) in 'The Mindy Project' (Fox)

Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Casey (Anders Holm) in ‘The Mindy Project’ (Fox)

ABC: 2 shows/4 couples

  • Mistresses: White woman Savi (Alyssa Milano) sleeps with her African-American coworker Dominic (Jason George). Asian-American Dr. Karen Kim (Yunjin Kim) sleeps with her patient, Thomas Grey (John Schneider). Latina single mom April (Rochelle Aytes) dates white man Richard (Cameron Bender).
  • The Neighbors: African-American woman Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) is in a couple with white man/fellow alien Larry Bird (Simon Templeman).

CBS: 2 shows/2 couples

  • Elementary: Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is white, and Dr. Joan Watson is Asian (Lucy Liu).
  • Golden Boy: Latino detective Christian Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro) has an affair with white fellow detective Deb McKenzie (Bonnie Somerville)

Fox: 1 show/9 couples

  • The Mindy Project: Indian OB-GYN Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) dates all the white guys: Dennis (Ed Helms), Matt (Seth Meyers), Josh (Tommy Dewey), Brendan (Mark Duplass), Jamie (B.J. Novak), Sam (Seth Rogen), Adam (Josh Meyers), and Casey (Anders Holm). She also flirts heavily with co-worker Danny (Chris Messina).

NBC: 1 show/0 couples

  • Do No Harm: Dr. Lena Solis (Alana de la Garza) was the love interest of Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale).

 

2013-2014:

Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) in 'Sleepy Hollow' (The Chiefly)

Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) in ‘Sleepy Hollow’ (The Chiefly)

ABC: 0 shows/0 couples

A rare no-show for interracial couples this season from ABC.

CBS: 1 show/1 couple

  • Extant: Astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) is married to Dr. John Woods (Goran Visnjic).

Fox: 3 shows/3 couples

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) crushes on his Cuban-American partner Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero).
  • Gang Related: Vee Dotsen (Inbar Levi) and Tae Kim (Sung Kang) are a couple.
  • Sleepy Hollow: Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) work together to protect their town.

NBC: 1 show/1 couple

  • Welcome to the Family: A white girl (Ella Rae Peck) and her Latino boyfriend (Joey Haro) get pregnant right out of high school.

 

2014-2015:

Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay) and Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) in 'How to Get Away with Murder' (World News)

Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay) and Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) in ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ (World News)

ABC: 4 shows/7 couples

  • Black-ish: African-American advertising executive Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) is married to Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), a mixed-race surgeon.
  • Cristela: A Latina attorney (Cristela Alonzo) spars with her white co-worker (Andrew Leeds).
  • How to Get Away with Murder: Too many to count! Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) is married to Sam Keating (Tom Verica). Law student Connor Walsh dates Oliver Ricamora (Jack Falahee). Law student Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) dates Kan (Arjun Gupta). And main character/audience-surrogate Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) sleeps with Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay).
  • Selfie: Marketing guru Henry Higgs (John Cho) tries to reform Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan).

CBS: 0 shows/0 couples

No interracial couples from this network this year.

Fox: 0 shows/0 couples

Same as CBS.

NBC: 1 show/1 couple

  • The Slap: Hector Apostolou (Peter Sarsgaard) is in an interracial marriage with Aisha (Thandie Newton).

 

Looks like a lot, right? Check back tomorrow for Part 2 where I’ll look at the actual numbers!

Thursday Trends: Whitewashing Asian Characters in Film

Emma Stone, 'Aloha' (Jezebel)

Emma Stone, ‘Aloha’ (Jezebel)

Let me be clear: this is not a good trend. At all. It should never have even started. And yet, here we are.

It’s still a problem.

Historically, Hollywood has always had a problem of “whitewashing,” i.e. casting white actors in roles specifically created for non-whites. The thinking is that whites are more “bankable,” but there aren’t many roles and opportunities for non-white actors as it is. So a white actor ends up taking a role from a non-white one, and many non-white people are deprived of seeing depictions of themselves on-screen.

This tends to happen a lot with Asian actors. Most recently, director Cameron Crowe came under fire for casting Emma Stone in his latest movie “Aloha.” Stone was cast as a character named Allison Ng, whose ancestry is one-quarter Chinese and one-quarter Hawaiian. (Having white and Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry is traditionally known as “hapa,” deriving from the Hawaiian Pidgin word for half. So Ng’s heritage would be termed “hapa” or “hapa haole,” to include the European ancestry.)

Look at the picture above and tell me with a straight face that Emma Stone resembles anyone remotely half-Asian.

Fortunately, Crowe caught some heat for this decision, and has publicly apologized for his choice. (But he covered his ass a little, saying that the character was meant to be frustrated that her features belied her mixed-race heritage.) But Crowe could’ve easily cast an Asian or mixed-race Asian for his film. He just chose not to.

This whitewashing of Asian characters tends to come up every few years. 2010’s “The Last Airbender” received a public outcry when it was revealed that the cast was mostly non-white actors, save for Dev Patel. (The debacle coined the term “race bending.”) This was odd considering that the TV series (on which the movie was based) was set in a world with obvious Asian elements, and it was animated using anime influence.

The 2008 movie “21” centered on the real-life story of the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of current and former students who beat the casinos at their own game by counting cards. Though many of the group were of Indian and Asian descent, the movie whitewashed the cast, using mostly Caucasian actors.

And then there are the times when white actors are actually put in yellowface. 2012’s “Cloud Atlas,” which had the ensemble actors playing various characters, actually had two examples of this, and took it past the point of no return: Jim Sturgess (who was also in “21”) and James D’Arcy both played Korean men at one point. Sturgess and D’Arcy are both white men, but they both spent extensive time in makeup to more realistically resemble Asian men.

This is far from a new problem. The 1956 film “Teahouse of the August Moon” featured legendary actor Marlon Brando as Japanese villager Sakini, donning full-on yellowface to physically embody the role. And everyone who’s seen 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” remembers Mickey Rooney as Holly Golightly’s Japanese neighbor I.Y. Yunioshi, who, seen through modern eyes, was a jaw-droopingly offensive caricature. (“The New York Times” review of the film called Rooney “broadly exotic.”) Fortunately, the distance of time and perspective have allowed people to see that these portrayals were very offensive towards Asians, and it was wrong to a) write/portray the characters in such stereotypical ways, and b) cast actors not of the specific ethnicity to play these parts.

But maybe the message isn’t sinking in as much as it should be: Blonde, Caucasian actress Scarlett Johansson will star in DreamWorks’ adaptation of the anime title “Ghost in the Shell.”

Here’s the thing: There are so many asian and mixed-Asian actors out there. Kristin Kreuk, Chloe Bennet, Olivia Munn, John Cho, Steven Yeun, Daniel Henney, Harry Shum Jr., Sendhil Ramamurthy. And those are only the ones I didn’t need to Google off the top of my head. Point being, there’s massive opportunity here for diverse casting that reflects reality. So let’s get on it!