Rock has addressed Hollywood’s race problem before, including in a memorable 2014 essay in The Hollywood Reporter and in an interview with the New Yorker.
“Black women have the hardest gig in show business,” the comedian said in the New Yorker’s profile of “SNL” star Leslie Jones. “You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman — if she was Black, she’d really have something to complain about.”
In Essence, he candidly discussed the challenges black actresses face by recounting his own experiences in the industry.
Rock revealed that when casting his projects, studio execs always ask him, “Does the girl have to be black?”
The “I Think I Love My Wife” star also said that he tries to do his part despite push back from studio heads. “I think everything I’ve ever done has had a significant role for a black or brown woman,” he told the magazine. He also discussed his struggle to cast veteran TV actress Tichina Arnold in his popular sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris.”
“I had to fight for Tichina,” he said. “I’m not even going to tell you who the network wanted. She’s literally as good as Tina Fey or Julia Louis-Dreyfus or any of these chicks. They’re like, ‘Tichina who?'” The comedian also isn’t shedding tears about Lawrence’s revelation that she earned less than her male co-stars in “American Hustle.” He told Essence: “Black women get paid less than everybody in Hollywood. Everybody’s talking about Jennifer Lawrence. Talk to Gabrielle Union. If you want to hear stories, talk to Nia Long. Talk to Kerry Washington. They would love to get to Jennifer Lawrence’s place, or just be treated with the same amount of respect.”
Rock’s comments tie directly in with a recent interview with Halle Berry. The Academy Award-winning actor lamented that not a single woman of color has won the Best Actress Oscar since she nabbed the trophy nearly 15 years ago.
She called the exclusion “heartbreaking,” and she’s right. Hollywood’s attitude towards black women directly results in them being overlooked for the roles that lead to Academy Awards recognition.
As black actresses hope to be considered for major roles, it feels particularly galling that THR is reporting on “The Plight of the White Oscar Nominee.” Apparently, white nominees’ biggest worry is campaigning for an Oscar during the ongoing diversity controversy.
It’s this kind of disconnect that indicates why the Academy and the industry at large is in desperate need of change.