African American director, Antoine Fuqua is sticking up for Hollywood and says that the “celluloid beast” is not at all racist. Fuqua who brought Training Day with Denzel Washington to the big screen claims that Hollywood is simply ignorant to our stories. Although the director acknowledges that there are race-related issues within the industry, all of Hollywood cannot be deemed racist. He told The Voice(UK), “I wouldn’t use the term racist, as much as I would say the playing field is not even in Hollywood.” “But ultimately, you have to put in the work.”
He adds, “It’s very easy to cry racism when you’re not qualified to do the work or your work isn’t transcending to where you want it to be. Hollywood is a business and you have to look at it that way.” : “I do see other things – like people who don’t understand or are ignorant to our culture. But I wouldn’t call them racist. If anything, it’s our job to expand their minds to our experience.”
“There are no African-Americans that run major studios and most of the executives at the top level are not African-American. So when the people in those jobs are developing stories, nine times out of 10, their stories won’t be about African-Americans – they’ll be about people who look like themselves.”
“To say that those people are racist is not necessarily the case.”
“99.9 per cent of the people that have given me my opportunities in this business were not African-American.” . “Denzel [Washington] gave me a great opportunity when we did Training Day together, and I also became friends with Mr Sidney Poitier, who has given me great counsel and advice.” “But in terms of people in the studio system, most of the people who have given me my jobs were not African American. So I can’t sit back and say Hollywood is racist”
While all of what Mr. Fuqua is saying may be true, there are some questions that have to be addressed. If we are not the ones in the executive positions to make the decisions, what is keeping us from getting there? Could one of the only reasons that Caucasian executives are the ones that helped Fuqua out is because they are in those positions, have access to abundant financing, and have the authority to green light projects swiftly? I don’t think that Fuqua can fall back on the fact that African Americans have not been the ones to help him get his projects out to the masses. It is a given that African Americans could not help him, as we don’t hold a position on the business side of Hollywood. And that is where the “race-related issues” come into play.
Also once we write the stories that are relevant to African Americans, how do we get the attention of those in power, when the stories we write are reputable and not always about shooting each other up, or being seen in a subservient manner? In this day and age, is it even possible to create a Black Hollywood that caters to our stories? We have been having conversation after conversation about this since before I was born, but I have yet to see a multitude of African Americans step up to the plate to get our stories heard or represent us in Hollywood on the executive level.
But can the lack of representation be completely the fault of African Americans? No. Sure there are the Will Smith’s and the Denzel Washington’s who have their own production companies, but it is going to take more than them to get the message across. I cannot discredit the fact that African Americans have most often been typecast into roles that demean and degrade us or simply only show one side of our history. I also have to say that my statements apply to Latino Americans as well. We are more than maids, more than concubines, more than gangsters. But most of the stories that switch focus from these stereotypes often get shelved because they do not bring mass appeal. So what is the solution and who is eventually going to stop talking about it and be about taking a bulldozer to the door of executives in Hollywood?
The full interview with The Voice (UK) will be released April 11th.
Asa Lovechild is an accomplished actress and singer out of New York City and a supporter of One Billion Rising