“The Great”, “The Chronicle of the Bridgertons”, “Anne Bolin” … why colorblind castings are increasing in the historical series

Queen Charlotte (Golda Rochewell) in season 1 of “The Chronicle of the Bridgartons” – Lime daniels / netflix

  • Colorblind castings are castings where an actor is selected for a role based on his talent and not on his skin color – even if it is traditionally White’s role.
  • Colorblind casting is a political response to the discrimination of non-white actors during casting and participates in the desire for quantitative and qualitative rehabilitation of racial minorities in collective representations.
  • Any imagination, even in the historical register, can lend itself to such castings.

Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, played by Mens actress Golda Rosquivel The Bridgerton Chronicle. Orlov, Count Katherine II’s mentor
Sacha dhawanActor of Indian origin in
great. Or the role of Henry VIII’s famous second wife in future minis Said grainHand over
Jodi Turner-SmithOf Jamaican origin … Here are three examples of so-called colorblind casting.

These “color blind” castings mean distributing roles without taking into account the ethnic origins of the actors. As a result, roles traditionally assigned to whites may be assigned to others: blacks, Arabs or Asians, for example. The idea is to embody the talent and ability of an actor to embody a role rather than “racial realism”, a directed choice for the real, the conservative or the desirable.

Leaving a tradition of “white gaze”, an artistic vision that only applies filters from white and Western culture, the series aims to “change the collective imaginations” with colorbelt casting, explains Rocaya Diallo, journalist and anti-racist activist . The goal is to offer other representations, “to enter imaginary with faces, features in a context where we are not used to seeing them” he continues. Furthermore, it is a question of allowing greater equality in hiring between white and non-white actors, with the latter still having fewer roles, but often stereotyped roles.

Story in black and white

The most striking examples of colorblind casting concern the historical series. And for good reason: the question of relevance is then raised in a heightened manner. For Rokhaya Diallo, “As this choice of casting does not alter the understanding of the work and the color of the skin is not a dramatic axiom of the story, it is not necessarily a problem”. The question is: Does the character’s ethnic origin have any significance in the story we want to tell. Thus, if one can imagine a Pocaantas or an African-American slave played by white actors, one can imagine quite within the framework of fantasy, and not about a documentary reconstruction that Dionne de Pottiers There is a person of Arab descent in the role by.

Can a colorblind casting allow white people to see a black or Asian historical figure? “The day all the oddities will be broken, why not”, according to Rokhaya Diallo, who specifies that “non-whites are discriminated against in a structural way”, finding work less easily, supporting roles or Difficult to leave roles. . That’s why, when Gerard plays DepardeauAlexandre Dumas, Mixed race of West Indian origin, we are not talking about colorblind casting White wash, A “laundering”.

Rehabilitate historical facts

But colorblind casting can also be… historical properties. so for The Bridgerton Chronicle, Producer Shonda Rhimes drew on the work of historians. The success of its series and its casting has reminded many that
Queen charlotte, The mestizo in the series, was actually from a mestizo branch of the Portuguese royal family, a swamp infestation in Alphonso III. The series then enters a purely fictional register when it imagines a society that has become racially egalitarian after the Metis Queen came to power. But the starting point is actually a historical fact.

In this case, the idea that Rokhaya looks at Diallo “to show that the presence of blacks at that time was not entirely real” is evident. Indeed, there is a desire to rehabilitate modern societies (in the academic sense of the word), where there were around 10,000 to 30,000 in Great Britain and about 15,000 in London in the mid-eighteenth century.

Historical reality but seen today

If this approach is interesting, for Jean-François Dunach, lecturer of modern history at the Sorbonne in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the expert of the British world, however, it should be observed that proportionally it was 0.1% of the population in Great Britain . And 1% in London – which is not much. If all the blacks at the time were not systematically servants, then those who rose to the top of the social ladder were quite unique.

However, for the historian, this type of production is addressed “with a virtue of education to us”, and so they can distance themselves from the idea of ​​strict historical realism. “In any case, we are working with an imagination. Many things are false, Jean-François Dunich analyzes. For example, take an artist Tudor : All artists are top models. They are 1m80, they have a great tooth, absolutely sublime skin whereas we know that the average height for men was 1m60, 1m50 for females, that they had skin diseases, lost teeth, lost teeth .. It is impossible as insocar to reproduce the reality of these societies, to make the reality of our societies visible in casting choices seem quite legitimate. It’s a fantasy, so let’s go, let’s let the talents express themselves. “

Gema chan, The British actress of Asian descent, did not say much about her role as Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots honor,
Anonymous Film : “It is the drain of England, represented by present-day England. I believe it is time. “

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