The Hollywood Reporter Justifies All-White Actress Roundtable With 1200-Word Shrug

Every year, The Hollywood Reporter puts together various roundtables of actors and actresses on the big and small screen as part of the promotional cycle leading up to award season. Those who are selected are generally at the top of their game and in contention for nominations at the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, the Emmys, and the other major award shows in between. Many of these roundtables end up being cover stories for the magazine, as is the case with this year’s group of big screen actresses, who were photographed for the cover of the latest issue. They eight actresses selected this year — Jennifer Lawrence, Jane Fonda, Carey Mulligan, Brie Larson, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, and Charlotte Rampling — are all white. This has happened plenty of times in THR’s history, but diversity has been a big buzz word lately, so the magazine made sure to get ahead of any possible controversy by issuing a mea culpa of sorts along with the release of the cover. Editor Stephen Galloway explains that the magazine had no choice but to select a panel of white women for this year’s actress roundtable because, as he put it, there were “precisely ZERO actresses of color in the Oscar conversation.”

It is, despite its wordy length, the equivalent of this: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

THR_Issue_39_Actress_RT_2015_embed

I haven’t seen a ton of movies this year, and while there have been a few performances that I have seen that have stood out, I am fairly clueless at this point about which actors and actresses are likely to snag a lot of the major award nominations. It may very well be true that “there are no minority actresses in genuine contention for an Oscar this year,” but that would be because of a lack of opportunity not a lack of talent. Or, as Viola Davis* put it so perfectly in her Emmy speech, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” Actresses of color cannot be “in genuine contention” for an Oscar for roles that are simply not there. But The Hollywood Reporter would have you believe that actresses of color cannot be included in a roundtable for their cover for the same reason — but that is bullshit.

Galloway writes that he believes this lack of diverse Oscar-contending roles for actresses of color is “appalling,” and then weakly points fingers of blame. Like the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences — yeah, they snubbed “Selma” and director Ava DuVernay last year, but they don’t make movies, they just celebrate them, Galloway writes, as if awards have no bearing on what future films get made. He assigns the most blame to “the half-dozen men and women now running the major studios” and says they should “demand and foster a culture of diversity,” he shrugs off the obvious influence and impact entertainment media has on the success and award potential of these very films. Most members of the Academy do not see all the movies out in any given year — they, like all of us regular ol’ movie goers, are influenced by advertisements and the press as to which films most deserve their attention. It’s not enough for THR to say “Well, we would have included some actresses of color in our roundup if the movie studios cared enough about diversity to cast them in the movies getting the most awards buzz. Maybe next year?”

The Hollywood Reporter has been doing these roundtables for eons and they are always made up of the actors and actresses who have been getting the most awards buzz. To change that formula so that it includes “the white actresses Hollywood has prioritized and given the best projects to” plus “a couple amazing actresses of color who racist Hollywood execs continue to overlook” would be the equivalent of tokenism. BUT BREAKING NEWS! This is not the only option for how The Hollywood Reporter could do more to encourage and increase diversity in Hollywood and entertainment media beyond acknowledging that it’s necessary in their “Sorry Not Sorry” editor’s letter accompanying their once again all fucking white roundtable.

How about doing a cover roundtable with only actresses of color, irregardless of whether they’ve got a shot at any nominations? What about doing the same for actors of color? And directors of color? What about championing some up and coming actresses of color with as much fervor as THR has shown, say, Jennifer fucking Aniston, who was on the cover of the magazine this year despite being snubbed for an award herself for the one decent (but box office flop) film she’s done in years (“Cake”). Or how about taking a breather from trumpeting every turd Jennifer Lawrence drops in favor of drawing attention to films with diverse casts, like the under-appreciated “Dope” or “Tangerine”? Why is Emilia Clarke, who is really only known for her work on “Game of Thrones,” on the cover of the magazine’s “New A-List” issue talking about why she turned down “Fifty Shades of Grey” instead of, say, Oscar winner and “Star Wars VII” star Lupita Nyong’o? What are YOU doing, THR, besides including actors/actresses of color who are award contenders in your other roundtables — as Galloway emphasizes the magazine has done — and occasionally throwing Shonda Rimes a bone? What are YOU doing, THR, to demand more diversity in Hollywood? Because from where I sit, it doesn’t look like much.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

*This quote was originally attributed to Octavia Spencer and was corrected to say Viola Davis within seconds of posting, but that change was not reflected right away thanks to the site’s cache, which hates me today.