Justice

Kerry Washington Shared the Reason Two Hollywood Casting Directors Fired Her

June 7th 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

It's no secret that actors of color often face typecasting in Hollywood.

On a recent episode of the Variety series “Actors on Actors," Kerry Washington told fellow guest Aziz Ansari that she was fired from two pilots because she didn't fit certain stereotypes.

Kerry Washington Aziz Ansari

"Before ‘Scandal,’ I was actually cast in two other pilots. Both went to series, but I was fired and recast,” Washington explained. “For both, it was because they wanted me to sound more ‘girlfriend,’ more like ‘hood,’ more ‘urban.'”

Ansari told the "Scandal" star that he had similar experiences as an Indian actor.

“It’s interesting; like every person that’s not a straight, white guy has their version of this,” he explained.

The "Masters of None" star and executive producer recently tackled racial typecasting in “Indians on TV,” an episode of his series in which protagonist Dev Shah (played by Ansari) auditions for a sitcom and is accidentally forwarded a racist email thread between the show's producers.

He shared feedback from the episode with Washington and Variety.

"A lot of other minority actors have told me, ‘Oh, this so rings a bell’ when you go into an audition room and you see a bunch of people that look like you and you just start feeling like, ‘Oh I’m not here [for me], I’m here because I fit what looks like the person they want in here,'" Ansari explained.

The first part of the conversation between Washington and Ansari aired in late May, and the conversation addressed diversity in — and beyond — the entertainment industry.

“I feel like everybody’s talked so much about how there’s more diversity on TV than in film. I don’t understand why. Do you?” Washington asked.

They also asserted that Hollywood's diversity problem wasn't unique.

“I saw this chart in the New York Times about like decision makers — the gatekeepers in every single industry — and it was like all white people,” Ansari said.

“It came out after 'Oscars so white' and I loved that they did it because there was all this attention on Hollywood but it was like no no no, every industry is so white,” Washington responded.

Minority actors remain underrepresented in TV and film.

In a 2015 report on diversity in Hollywood, UCLA researchers analyzed the scripts of 16 "diverse" TV shows that aired during the 2012-2013 season and found that "white actors still dominated the top credits" and "racial and gender stereotypes, though present at times, were muted."

White actors outnumbered minority actors 2-1 in leading television roles and 6-1 in leading film roles, according to the report.

You can watch the full video below, and on Variety.

[h/t the Cut]