Zeba Blay -Huff Post Black Voices
Earlier this year, a friend of mine revealed some good news. She was in talks with a reputable network to develop a TV show based on her life. I was ecstatic for her, and ecstatic for girls like her: alternative black 20-somethings trying to make it in New York City.
The concept for my friend’s show was to be irreverent, quirky, and decidedly unlike anything on TV at the moment. It was exciting. Then, a few weeks after sharing the news, my friend called me in the middle of the night, audibly upset. “They love the concept, they want to do it,” she said. “But they want to make my character half-white.”
The powers-that-be were adamant about this change, telling my friend that making the character a mixed girl would make her “more relatable.” Eventually, she relented.
I was absolutely dumbfounded by her story. Surely, in a year where “diversity” has been a buzzword and shows including “Empire” and “Jane the Virgin” have gotten attention and accolades for having non-white leads, it didn’t make sense.
But the incident with my friend is emblematic of the strange conundrum of the entertainment landscape. Now, more than ever, we’re talking about the importance of diversity and representation. But, increasingly, those words are becoming empty place holders while behind-the-scenes, the industry continues to take as many steps back as it does forward.
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