Hollywood and black screenwriters


La Shawn Barber wrote about a black screenwriter and his movie “New in Town.” The movie stars Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. What’s interesting about the movie is, the characters were originally written as “African-Americans.”

She asked a question at the end of her post:

“Is changing the race (sex, religion, nationality, etc.) of your main characters a small price to pay?”

I think changing the race of the main characters happens all the time in Hollywood. Renee Zellweger was casted in the role of a former slave girl in Cold Mountain. I suspect the reason is because no black actresses would take the role but I could be wrong.

I don’t recall many movies starring a black female lead in popular movie.  I think it’s possible to have a black female lead carry a movie the same way Nicole Kidman.

I was watching a special feature on the Antwon Fisher dvd and Denzel Washington mentioned how roles for black men are more abundant than roles for black women. That’s true. Look at all the movies starring black men compared to black women.

If you read the article about the Ken Rance, the writer of New in Town, he mentioned how one executive didn’t “want to see a movie about a black woman saving a town full of white people.”

I finally got to see the Secret Lives of Bees, and the movie made me think about what that executive said to Ken, and I thought “Don’t seem to have issues with black women saving white folks as long–” and I had to stop myself. I guess I just really didn’t like the movie. But the movie was work for four black actresses.

Shonda Rhimes is a screenwriter and creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Neither one of her shows features a black female lead. Meredith Grey could have easily been a black woman but then the show probably wouldn’t have become popular if she was. Miranda Bailey could have gone off to a private practice in Malibu, but instead, it was Addison Montgomery.

I don’t know, I guess you do have to change aspects of your characters if you want to make some money in Hollywood. Go with what’s generic and appeals to the masses.

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