Hello beautiful people!

Want to see the latest Mala gorgeousness? (I swear I love this puppy so damn much.) Click here. πŸΆπŸ“Ώ

Okay. So last week I was coaching a talent agent who was contemplating no longer submitting actors on a certain type of casting she keeps seeing. Wanted to confirm that the social messaging RESULT of this was as… repulsive? manipulative? wrong? …as it seemed, and of course, I could confirm that it was exactly all of this. If you ever see commercials, you've seen it. You just may not have noticed it:

Interracial couples with children… and the dad is always white.

Why the product/service/brand, ad agency, creative team, production company, casting company, etc. think this is GOOD:

βœ… it proves we know interracial marriages are a thing and we're woke enough to even show them
βœ… we're casting a long underrepresented and underestimated population with all these Black women as the mom in these ads
βœ… we're good! See? We're hip! Praise us and buy our thing! Thank you!

And here's why this is BAD:

It pushes the narrative that Black men specifically do not exist as responsible fathers in happy families. It champions the white savior storyline. It continues to reward the most overcast, overpaid, over-seen-on-TV population of all time (cis-het straight white able-bodied men). It reinforces that THE most aspirational thing in these happy family ads is this hero of a white dad.

(And before you @ me about how hard it is for even you, a white dude, to get acting jobs, just stop. The data doesn't lie. The numbers are ridiculously in your favor. Even in a profession where it's hard for EVERYONE to get work, you get more OPPORTUNITY for work than all other populations combined. K? Thanks.)

Further, it doesn’t balance out the interracial family picture with accuracy for ALL the shapes it could take. There’s a disproportionate number of white-dad families in commercials. Commercials that exist to show us what is aspirational. Why is THIS the predominant blended family to which we are being told to aspire? I mean, good job for bringing more people of color onto our screens, of course, and YAY for members of a blended family that DOES look exactly like this to finally see themselves on screen… but why *always* this exact way?

Okay. So back to the convo with the agent who's now gotten clarity that these breakdowns were feeling performative and "give me my gold star for doing a good job at better representation in casting" in nature and that they're also driving a dangerous vision of "Black men don't live in these worlds" into a more normalized "truth". She's now no longer submitting actors on these projects. Period.

Because her NO line is more important right now.

She's more committed to #CreatingTheHollywoodWeWant (a post-Hollywood Hollywood, of sorts) than to being a part of this troubling wave of casting going on right now.

This is not my way of telling you that this needs to be your NO line too.

Nope!

NO lines are individual things.

And as I was pulling together all this for today's BonBlast and this blog post, I went back to a previous piece about honoring your NO line, and it's here. ESPECIALLY if you’re new to the whole NO line thing, give it a read. You’ll be glad you did.

Are you finding yourself doing more NO line living these days?

Comment below to let me know.

(BTW, if you've never set a NO line, I recommend you do so *now* and that you do it for all sorts of scenarios before they're presented to you. AND I recommend you revisit your NO line at least once a year to be sure it doesn't need adjusting. If you need my support with this, we do a great job of it in Get in Gear for the Next Tier.)

Sending you love,


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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2 Comments

  1. Tara September 20, 2022 at 2:14 pm

    Hey, Bonnie!
    Continuing to love your BonBlasts and, I have to say, now that they’re less frequent I’m actually able to give more focus to reading them when they do come in since they’re not vying for quite as much time in the mix of all my other emails!

    I also just had to make a quick comment about the interracial couples thing. It was good to hear this angle on it which I’ll keep in mind as I see these commercials pop up, but I also wanted to share my side of the experience. I’m a mulatto (I love the term and I’m taking it back!) with a white dad and a black mom (and I also married a white guy), and along with spending most of my young years looking for people like me being represented – and not as the curiously light-skinned children of two black parents like on The Cosby Show – I also felt underrepresented because my combination of parents seems to be in the minority. When I began to see more white-guy-black-gal couples shown in the media my heart swooned!! Finally!
    So, for what it’s worth there’s a segment of people for whom this represents a refreshing and long-awaited feeling of recognition. As a fellow Woo Person we know there’s darkness in light and lightness in the dark, so I guess here that is! And this will help me feel less eye-rolly and more celebratory when I see (what always felt to me like) “yet another” black-guy-white-gal couple shown, and I appreciate that! πŸ˜„

    Though it did sting a little to hear it referred to as “repulsive” since it’s been part of my own underrepresented experience, but I understand the positive intention behind it…

    Love always!
    Tara

    Reply
    1. Bonnie Gillespie September 20, 2022 at 2:45 pm

      LOVE that you’re taking terminology back that serves you and OF COURSE you know the word “repulsive” was referencing the practice of not casting Black men as members of blended families, right? That TREND was what my client found problematic. πŸ™‚ Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your thoughtful, detailed words and the experiences you’ve lived and how they’re showing up more and more on screen. Such a great time for expansion! XO

      Reply

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