Color blind. Gender blind. Age blind.
By Tamar Kummel
Think about some recent movies or TV shows starring Meryl Streep, Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Oh, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Robin Williams or any other of your favorite actors. I bet you can’t picture that movie or TV show starring anyone else. They are perfect. But I will bet you that ½ those roles were not meant for them. They were written for someone younger, thinner, whiter, and possibly male. Each one is ridiculously talented, and also not a 25-year-old, white male.
I would like to propose a new thought process. A new way of thinking about characters and casting. And a new way of looking at the world. Not from your point of view, but from an inclusive, global way.
I want you to think outside the box. Think outside when writing. Think outside when casting. So many times, we pigeon-hole our thought process. We “write what we know.” But I bet you know a lot more diversity than you even realize.
Oftentimes as writers, we get restricted by what actually happened. We think, “I’m a 20-year-old male, so the character has to be too.” Or, “this is about a family, so they all have to look alike.” Or the worst thought, “Only males talk this way.” But I can assure you, women talk about everything, at all ages. We curse, we laugh, we talk about sex. And some of us, lots of us, don’t want kids, don’t think about kids, and are not just moms. And you know what, if we are moms, we still have names. It’s not just, “Mom.”
It’s 2019, people. Families look all kinds of ways. Two dads, two moms, light skin, dark skin, you name it. Their kids can be adopted from all over the world. People marry at all ages, even into their 90’s sometimes (I’ve seen it). They have kids at all ages. And best friends don’t have to be the same sex.
People of all ages still date. They still work. They still have hopes and dreams and experiences.
Just because you picture your scene with two men in their 20’s, may not mean you couldn’t cast two women in their 40’s. Think about it. Does it change the integrity of the scene? Not every male/female scene is subliminally about sex. They can be best friends, enemies, or strangers. Imagine you wrote a scene between two people sitting around talking. What did you picture? Twenty-five year old males? Fifty-year-old, black women? How about 60-year-old Asians, one male, and one female? Does the scene change? Does it get better? More interesting? Diversity is normal. It’s interesting. It’s easier to tell characters apart. It’s more reflective of our society. And it’s a good thing to do.
There are 100,000 actors in New York City. There are 400,000 actors in Los Angeles. These are actors of all ages, all types and sizes. Great actors with a wealth of experience and talent. They want to work. And they can make your project more interesting. Give them a chance.
Tamar Kummel is an actress, writer, director, and producer in New York City and Los Angeles. She’s easily found on IMDB, social media, and anywhere that serves food. She’s usually wearing purple. She recently completed her first feature documentary, “Fighting For Allergy Free Food.” Along with 2 companion books. More information on current projects, clips, resumes, and books on her websites: TamarKummel.com, CaptainPurpleProductions.com, FightingForAllergyFreeFood.com, TamarKummel.blogspot.com
Photo Courtesy of MaverickSean.com Photography