Consider this, there is a truckload of talent in the talent in the room: Michael Caine, Benicio Del Toro, Will Smith, Samuel Jackson, Joel Edgerton and Mark Ruffalo. They are not all black, save for Smith and Jackson, and not all with exotic names- except Benicio Del Toro. But they all spoke up about their experiences with racism.
It is Hollywood Reporter’s Actors Roundtable, gathering some of the greatest living thespians of stage and screen, speaking their mind (Smith, BTW, spoke memorably about his miss with turning “Django Unchained” into a love story). And one by one, they all spoke about their experiences dealing with casual racism and stereotyping in the entertainment industry.
According to Smith, Hollywood and America allowed him to flourish. He went on to say that there was no other country in the planet which would be able to produce people who look like him, and allow them to have a global impact.
Michael Caine (who is British, of all things), also spoke eloquently about the stereotypes foisted on people. According to him, when he started, he was the “black “ actor because of his working class background, and theater was largely seen as the sinecure of the posh class. Caine said:
“I always said that Cockneys were the first blacks in England, so I understand your position very well because I lived through it.”
Del Toro also explained his experiences, about how he received repeated suggestions to change his name when he landed in Hollywood, adding that it might have been one of the biggest mistakes he had made (not changing his name).
Edgerton, star and maker of this year’s fantastic “The Gift”, spoke about the storm of controversy stirred by casting a black actor (Michael B. Jordan) in a traditionally caucasian role (the human torch)- adding:
“people actively being racist, making those sort of comments about Star Wars [casting a black star]. Some of it is very, very alarming.”
Sam Jackson added his experiences in social media, how he was alarmed by posting an innocuous ‘Pray for Paris’ post and receiving a flood-tide of hate.
But the masterful finishing repartee was said, again by Will Smith:
“As actors we have the ultimate power. Historically, story combined with imagery moves humanity forward. What we do — not that it’s a responsibility, but it is the ultimate forum for changing people’s hearts and mind”
You can catch the full Actor Roundtable at “Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter” on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 11 a.m. ET on Sundance TV.
Photo Source: Hollywood Reporter