Actor Was Asked: 'Do Black People Kiss Their Kids?'

'NYT' asks about not being straight, white, male in Hollywood, gets telling answers
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2016 1:00 AM CST
Actor Was Asked: 'Do Black People Kiss Their Kids?'
Wendell Pierce recounts an offensive moment while working on "The Gregory Hines Show" in 1997.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

What's it like to be in Hollywood if you're not straight or white or a man? Not great, as plenty of recent reports have asserted, but perhaps none so effectively as Melena Ryzik's amazingly quotable piece for the New York Times. Ryzik spoke with 27 "industry players"—including Mindy Kaling, Eva Longoria, Hari Nef, and John Ridley—about their training, their first breaks, "talking to the suits," and more. Those interviews are boiled down to a series of succinct and sometimes jarring quotes. Portions of three standouts:

  • Ken Jeong: "A UCLA acting professor gave me good marks in my performance and [said]: 'You're a good actor, which is why I'm telling you, stay the hell out of LA. There's not much of a future for you. Go to Asia.'"

  • Wendell Pierce: "I was working on The Gregory Hines Show ... in 1997. Gregory kissed everybody, and so in the show he would kiss his son, Matty. This particular day someone from CBS said: 'I notice every time you come in, you kiss Matty. So I wanted to ask, do black people kiss their kids?' That was the most offensive thing I think I've ever [heard]."
  • America Ferrera: "[My manager] wanted me to audition for the Latina chubby girl in a pilot. ... I said, 'I'm not going in for that.' When I ultimately left him, he [told] another of my reps, 'Somebody should tell that girl that she has an unrealistic idea of what she can accomplish in this industry.' That was someone I was paying to represent me."
Read the piece in full here. (More Hollywood stories.)

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