Lydia's Journey BEYOND Hollywood

Follow an actress's journey beyond Hollywood. The life after a successful 10 year career...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How Can I Help You?

This week has been awesome.
It's always been one of my dreams that I wake up every morning and go to work on a studio lot. And this week, that's exactly what I did. I reported to Warner Brothers Studio every day this week for rehearsal. I love working on a half hour sitcom. It's so interesting how it shapes and forms right before your very eyes! The script changes so much from the table read to the shooting days. And so many people have a say on how it turns out. We have two main writers for this pilot, plus the star who also co-wrote it (and created it since its based on his book), and we have the executives at the studio and network that have popped in during the week to see rehearsals. Then they have a meeting afterwards for notes and the writers make the necessary changes. They change jokes to make them funnier, they cut lines to get the timing just right. It really is an art form - the sitcom world.
We began the actual shooting on Thursday and we should be done by Monday or Tuesday. Everyone is really fun to work with and I've had a blast on set.
I just wish it was in a different role.
I play the housekeeper on this pilot, with an accent - yet again. I don't even have a name - just "housekeeper". On one hand, its very frustrating - and on the other, I'm just very grateful to be working!
I have an appointment/interview with a diversity executive over at NBC this week and I'm extremely excited about this! I would love the opportunity to be in a position where I can change the stereotypical view of minorities on television. That's my ultimate dream now. No, make that my MISSION.
As I sat in my trailer yesterday, I got a phone call from my agent about an audition on Monday for another pilot. It's a recurring role - which is awesome - BUT the role is an "immigrant housekeeper", with an accent - yet again. I just don't get it. Is it really so hard for them to see me as a DOCTOR? LAWYER? A BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL of some sort? A CITIZEN at least???!!! It frustrates me mainly because I remember when I was a little girl and I watched tv, I never really saw people who looked like me. And I just don't want today's little girls to see nothing but maids and believe that's all we are, or all we are perceived as.
Ok, I'll get off my soap box now. Sorry...


Blogger char said...

don't be sorry! you have every right to feel the way you do. we've got to change this. i'm filipina and we aren't even represented at all in TV! i'm never "asian enough" nor am i ever "latina enough". i dream of one day being a filipina on TV that other filipinos can be proud of. so middle america will even know we exist! in showbiz, too, thank you very much!

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

I'm caucasian and I get embarassed when I watch TV and minorities are always cast in the same stereotypical roles. I always wonder who the heck writes and casts this? I think it's great that you want to change this.

On the other hand as an actor I completely understand just wanting to work but I have often wondered what responsibility we have to our audience. I was once offered a role that I thought portrayed women negatively so I passed even though I needed the $$$. I knew that my passing it over wouldn't change anything and that they would just hire someone else but when I saw the episode I was glad I wasn't associated with it.

It a hard balance, especially for those of us who are not earning movie star salaries but there are times when you have to think of the greater picture. So best of luck with your new 'mission'.

4:39 PM  
Blogger AmbitiousB said...

Don't apologize! I can't tell you how many times I've been called in to be the eye-rolling black girl with attitude. It is what it is and yet if we don't want it to remain this way then WE have to be those agents of change. I'm looking forward to reading about your mission in action and in the meantime, congrats on the role.

1:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your blog. This is my first time chiming in.

I think the powers that be ARE open to casting non-whites in lead roles. But you have to be attractive in a way that appeals to white people.... or be a rapper turned actor. ; ) It's different for men, so I'm only talking about actresses right now. The ones who get the most breaks tend to be slender and have the bone structure of a white person. The hot black actresses -- Halle Berry, Zoe Saldana, Kerry Washington, Joy Bryant, Gugu Mbatha-Raw -- appeal more to white sensibilities. Same for Asians. If you went to Asia and showed them pics of these women, they would not be considered beautiful. Here, they want tall and mixed. Maggie Q, Summer Glau, Olivia Munn, Moon Bloodgold, Lindsay Price. Grace Park is 5'10". I'm not sure even a young Lucy Liu would have it so easy these days. There are a lot of Latina and Hispanic actresses working, but LATINA! doesn't jump out at you when you look at them -- Jessica Alba, Joanna Garcia, Cote de Pablo, Jordana Brewster, Eva Longoria, Cameron Diaz. America Ferrara, Sofia Vergara, and Michelle Rodriguez are nice exceptions. But they're still gorgeous. : )

Actors who are a little too "real" looking often get stuck in those smaller roles -- the maid, the nanny, the nail lady, the delivery guy, the gardener, the drug dealer, the welfare mother -- where they're there to create a believable atmosphere for the leads. The only way to get out of those roles is if you are an un-effing-believable actor who blows people away with an outstanding performance in something. But how often would you get that chance? In a world where they spend hours to make Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron look ugly for a movie, and Tina Fey is the frumpiest woman on TV?

This is a nice interview with Viola Davis from last year. She talks a little bit about the lack of diversity in what is considered "attractive" for women of color.,23955/

3:00 PM  
Blogger jenny m said...

I can so relate to you Char! I'm Filipina too and I get the same thing! So very very frustrating.

And to relate to the housekeeper side of it - I recently saw a breakdown for either "Filipina" or "Hispanic" (one of very very few that even said Filipina) and it was for the role of "Housekeeper." Ugh.

Lydia - I love that you want to change things. Know that you are not alone. We need things to change in casting offices, writers' rooms, etc. So get back on the soap box -- and be confident knowing you've got a ton of support.


12:01 PM  

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