While I imagine Zoe Saldana is somewhere telling her white boyfriend how she wishes everyone would get over race the way she has in her dating pool, more conscious of reality thespians like Kerry Washington and Don Cheadle are speaking candidly about it. In an interview with Variety, the ultra talented duo shared their thoughts on race in their industry — the good and the bad.
On lack of opportunities for people of color in Hollywood
Don: It depends on when you ask the question. If this was 1971, there would be tons of opportunities for black people in movies. Not sure if you would want to be in all of them, but you would be like yeah, I’ve got 5 auditions today. Then that went away and there was a resurgence of other blaxsploitation films with the gangster films like Boyz In The Hood, Menace II Society and Dead Presidents–movies with black heroes and anti heros. At that time, there was a lot of work.
But where we are right now, there’s not enough for anybody. So the people who are already marginalized (people of color) are going to have even less.
On how their tv roles have helped promote “crossover”
Kerry: The woman who runs my digital social media came up with this idea when I was on the cover of Ebony–a contest for followers to take a pic of themselves with me on the cover of EBONY magazine. And the most creative we would send the an autographed copy. It was a neat way to engage followers on line. It was so moving because you had all these pictures of white women going to buy EBONY magazine or Latin women and people overseas going into international magazine stores. Suddenly, because of the power of the TV show, people were crossing over into racial categories and social interests they never would have before. These people wouldn’t normally even purchase this magazine.
On comparing racism to sexism in Hollywood
Don: Well, sexism…I’m loving it. Being named a sex symbol. Getting pinched on the butt cheeks at this age? Yeah. (Laughs) But it’s definitely not the same thing for [Kerry].
Kerry: I’ve been able to do things as a woman in this business I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do as a man. Just like with Ray, I wouldn’t have been able to play Ray Charles’ wife if I wasn’t a black woman. So, it sometimes makes things more challenging, but it also has allowed for unique experiences like Hotel Rwanda and Ray and Last King, roles that really use our gender and our race.
Watch the full 30-minute discussion below: