The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1557  Tuesday, 5 August 2003

From:           Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 4 Aug 2003 11:18:09 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1552 Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1552 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

Thanks to Hadd Judson for the example of Denzel Washington, who to me is
the clearest example of this practice in today's entertainment world.
For my money, Denzel is THE best actor out there regardless of color.
And yet, he has been reduced to playing this political game in
Hollywood, only available to play black roles, or to roles such as The
Pelican Brief where his skin color is an issue. Why can't a wider range
of roles be available to this fine actor? Why must his romantic roles be
limited to films where he must only be an object of attraction for black
women, i.e. The Preacher's Wife? From what my female friends tell me,
Denzel is one of the more attractive males in film today.

I'm glad that he was given the opportunity to play Don Pedro in
Branagh's Much Ado, and did such a fantastic job with it. His color (and
consequently his relation to Keanu Reeve's Don John) was never an issue.
Even at the one point where it may have been an issue (Beatrice's
rejection of his proposal), the color of his skin was only an issue if
one READ that reason into her rejection. Why not a black Richard III
(which he did play in Central Park)? Petruccio? Hamlet for that matter?
These actors can fill the roles magnificently for the directors with the
vision to cast the best actor for the job, regardless of "correct" skin
color. If Shakespeare's company were alive today, I think if Denzel were
a member, he would be Shakespeare's Burbage, simply because he would be
the best actor in the company.

              Why brand they us
with base? With baseness? bastardy? Base, base?
Who in the lusty stealth of nature take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake?"

Brian Willis

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