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Do Commercial television films no longer have white actresses?

by Ratan Srivastava
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films

In the films industry, white actors are placed in non-white parts, a process known as whitewashing. To whitewash is “to change… in a way that favours, features, or caters to white people: example as… putting a white performer inside a position based on a nonwhite person or cartoon character,” according to Merriam-Webster. As per the BBC, movies with white actors who play different races span a wide range of genres. African-American and Asian-American roles have indeed been whitewashed.

White performers used blackface or yellowface to impersonate diverse races in the early twentieth century, sometimes exacerbating preconceptions of other ethnicities. For example, in Charlie Chan Carries On (1931) as well as new movies, Swedish-born actor Warner Oland portrayed Chinese investigator Charlie Chan.

These roles were warmly welcomed by viewers there at times due to the paucity of characters of colour in the movie industry. Manuel Arbó, Sidney Toler, Roland Winters, Ross Martin, and Peter Ustinov are among the non-Asian actors who have played Chinese investigator Charlie Chan.

By the mid-twentieth century, movies had become more diverse in terms of colour, and blackface had mostly vanished from the business. The film Othello (1965) was an exception, as “the Moor” was played by Laurence Olivier, a white actor. As that of the title character, he wore blackface.  White actors play white characters who employ blackface in Soul Man and Tropic Thunder.

The use of “yellowface” lasted into the 1960s. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for example, Mickey Rooney played a Japanese landlord. Popular black performers including as Will Smith, Denzel Washington, as well as David Oyelowo, according to David White, National Executive Director of the actors’ organisation SAG-AFTRA, have challenged the casting argument. Andrew J. Weaver, an assistant professor of telecommunications, stated, “In Hollywood, it’s assumed that whites will shun films with mostly black casts, or any racial cast for that matter. Even movies having minorities written within them are cast with whites, as seen by the whitewashing of films.”

According to Mitchell W. Block, a film professor, studios followed casting rules as a matter of business to appeal to investors and producers.

Director Ridley Scott stated that his 2014 historical epic picture Exodus would not have been as successful if he had not hired big-name performers.

Also Read: How many actors like Dilip Kumar have acted in 200 films?

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