With Matt Damon’s recent incredibly tone-deaf comments on diversity in Hollywood, a recent interview Tichina Arnold for Rolling Out magazine is right on time. As has been my stance, she thinks it’s not only important for black people to have plenty of content, but that it should actually be good.
“I think it’s important that we as Black people keep good content,” says Arnold. “We’ve got to stay current and staying current is telling truth and what’s going on. We’re watching reality shows and this is almost a different type of reality that’s [being] told in a different way. I think it’s a great time for Black actors to really be able to stretch.”
She also opines that diversity behind the scenes is as important and necessary as it is on the screen:
“We need to own our content and be a part of the content,” she explains. “Where are the black writers in the room? We need them in the room. I’ve been on all black shows where there isn’t one black writer. That’s where it starts. We need to be in positions of power and in places where we’re part of the creative process. If we’re not in that room, it will be the same thing all over again. That’s why it’s very important to have people like Shonda Rhimes and Ava Duvernay and Ali Leroi — we need to be in positions of power to actively and effectively make changes that we want to see. You’ve got to go do it. It’s not coming to you.”
This is what people like Matt Damon fail to get. They think if they simply slap a few people of color in front of the camera, that’s good enough. But it’s not. There needs to be balance, and right now that’s mostly missing.
With the success of shows like Empire, black-ish, How to Get Away With Murder and Fresh Off the Boat, here’s hoping that the bigwigs in Hollywood finally got the hint.