More Roles for Black Actors, But ...
Barry Scott, the creator and star of “Ain’t Got Long to Stay Here,” his one-man tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., offered his observations on the portrayal of blacks in the media today when he performed on campus recently.
When he was working in Hollywood in the mid 1970s, there were few substantial roles for African-American actors. There are more roles for black actors now, Scott said. But this is not because decision makers in Hollywood have realized the need for equality.
It’s about trends and profits, he said. Film producers passed on “Red Tails,” a historical fiction based on the Tuskegee Airmen produced by George Lucas, because they didn’t think it would make money.
They’ll consider movies with large black casts in the future only if it succeeds, he said. There’s a sense of indifference in Hollywood, he added.
“‘Red Tails’ would never have happened if George Lucas had not paid for it out of his own pocket,” Scott said.
While blacks aren’t limited to the same stereotypical roles that were prevalent when Scott was in Hollywood, the availability of these roles is determined by the demands of the producers.
He hopes “Red Tails” succeeds, so that it can pave the way for more major productions centered on black history and culture.
A big difference now is Tyler Perry. The writer, actor and filmmaker has made a contribution to entertainment: Perry does more to employ minorities than anyone in Hollywood today, he said.
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