Hollywood has always been the white male's playground. In the beginning of the film industry and the entertaiment industry in general, it was commonplace to perform in blackface. Blackface and similar concepts, yellowface and brownface, fall under a common Hollywood practice of whitewashing. The act of casting white actors in person of color (POC) roles.
It is important to note that representation goes beyond ethnic minorities. Hollywood lacks equal representation in many spheres such as gender and queer representation. For simplicity's sake, this page will focus on the representation of ethnic minorities.
A History of Whitewashing
Birth of a Nation (1915)
Birth of a Nation featured scores of white actors donning blackface to play black soldiers during the civil war.
Charlie Chan (1944)
Though created to combat "Yellow Peril", Charlie Chan showed white actor, Warner Oland, in yellowface.
Dragon Seed (1944)
In this war drama, Katherine Hepburn played a Chinese woman named Jade in yellowface.
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
The iconic portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi by Mickey Rooney is one of the most prolific examples of yellowface.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962))
White actor, Alec Guinness, plays an Arab prince using brownface.
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
Linda Hunt, a white actress, plays a Chinese Australian man in this film.
Scarface depicts Tony Montana and his Cuban-American gang in New York. All except for one of the actors were not of Cuban descent.
The Human Stain (1983)
Anthony Hopkins plays a black man who has been passing as a white Jewish man for 50 years.
Lone Ranger (2013)
Johnny Depp, a man of European descent, plays Tonto, the Native American sidekick of the Long Ranger.
Based on a novel in which her character is a quarter-Chinese and quarter-Polynesian, Emma Stone plays Allison Ng.
The annual Academy Awards, often known as the Oscars, hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is regarded as the highest honor those in the film industry can receive. With categories such as Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, there has been a surprising lack of diverse representation. Since 2000, there have been eight black men nominated for the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role with only three wins. The opportunities for black men in Hollywood for recogniation are sparse and its even fewer for black women and other minorities. These disparities have come to light with the movement, #OscarsSoWhite.
To browse a selection of diverse films recognized by the Academy, click here!
Hollywood has made strides in representation especially in the current climate when movements such as #OscarsSoWhite have gained momentum. 2018 has been a groundbreaking year especially with more POC directors getting opportunities to make blockbuster films and more POC leads.
Sadly, Hollywood is not the perfect picture of diversity. Cases of whitewashing still occur in recent films, most notably Aloha and Ghost in the Shell. As record-breaking and spectacular as 2018 has been, there is much room for improvement
Black Panther (2018)
The first Marvel Studios film led by a black actor, Chadwick Boseman.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Based on the hit novel, Crazy Rich Asians is the first film to feature an all-Asian cast since Joy Luck Club (1993).
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
Directed by Ava DuVernay, A Wrinkle in Time signals a shift in casting choices made by film giant, Walt Disney Studios.
The Big Sick (2018)
Featuring Pakistani-American comedian, Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick follows a romantic true story.
Based on a true story, black cop Ron Stalworth infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan.
The Hate U Give (2018)
Inspired by the rise in police brutality, The Hate U Give follows Starr Wilson as she deals with the aftermath of her friend's death by police.
Creed II (2018)
Continuing the Rocky and Creed legacy, is Adonis Creed as he faces an enemy his loved one's have history with.
This quiz provides you a movie to watch based on the genre you're interested in! But the results only feature films that portray POC as dynamic and interesting characters instead of punchlines and background props. It provides you the opportunity to acquaint yourself with more diverse stories.