Diversity & Representation in Film

By Daizy Muriithi

Everyday when I’m walking down the streets I know that I am fitting into a stereotype in someone’s mind, I just don’t know which one. I am a black African woman living in so called “Australia” and at this point I am pretty sure you have at least gone through 5 stereotypes about me.

A white woman once asked me,“Why is that when black women talk about their colour it is a positive thing, but when white people do it is regarded as racist?” Now, the answer to this is simple, white people do not need to worry about loving their skin tone because media has made white the neutral colour. When a black character is a lead, the outrage is unbelievable and suddenly fictional characters can only be played by a particular group of people. A great example of this is when Idris Elba was rumoured to play James Bond and the internet could not handle it. It was a win for the black community and backlash from regressive white people who even went ahead to say that he wasn’t British enough. They just could not believe a black actor is deserving of a non stereotypical role.

Now you kind of understand why Black Panther is a big deal for us. We have not had a cast as big as that of black people playing the heroes. We have been villainies for so long because we have been denied opportunities to tell our stories because “they do not represent our society” “It’s too…you know..you know…black”. When we ask for a seat at the table we are told that we are nagging too much. When we rock up to auditions, we miss the roles because we don’t really fit the character. Representation is important because it impacts our interactions in society. We don’t see people who look like us playing the protagonist or the big boss or being the Screenwriter, Producer, Director, Audio Engineer etc. We are not nagging, we are asking to be given equal opportunities and that is why the quota system works,

We have amazing directors like Ava Duvernay who is killing it with Queen Sugar a great TV show that portrays a REALISTIC characterisation of black people’s daily lives. Issa Rae with Insecure which is a representation of a lot of black women today. Jordan Peele changed the game last year with Get Out . Lena Waithe who has told the story of Chicago from her experience growing up there through The chi. Just these four people have created opportunities not only for black actors and crew but a DIVERSE working team which is what we need in order to have a CLEAR representation with no bias.

I have only scratched the surface when it comes to diversity and representation and it is a conversation that should be ongoing. We need to have a realistic representation of the society we live in. We need to see more LQBTQI-A represented, more women in major roles, more POC, more First Nations casts and crew, more people with disabilities and so on. Check your privilege then use your privilege to do good!

If you would like to be apart of the change that needs to happen, head over to the Future Creatives Initiative website and submit your scripts https://www.futurecreativesinitiative.com/

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