October 17, 2010

Hollywood ghettoizes Native actors

Lorne Cardinal says it's a bumpy road for native actors

Corner Gas star, back on stage with Thunderstick, says stereotyping remains an issue

By Glen Schaefer
The people who cast television and film in North America still have trouble seeing native characters as anything other than stereotypes, says Lorne Cardinal.

The Alberta-born actor dodged those stereotypes himself with his Gemini award-winning role as a small-town cop on the long-running Canadian sitcom hit Corner Gas, and he’s touring western Canada with the black-comic play Thunderstick, about a pair of native journalists chasing political scandal on a road trip.

“I think it’s for the most part ghettoized,” Cardinal says. “If they’re doing leathers and feathers, they want all the native actors they can get. But producers and casting directors have a hard time seeing native people as professionals—doctors or police chiefs or lawyers. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind, it’s always an uphill struggle.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Patel's Struggle Shows Hollywood's Racism and Audiences More Openminded Than Hollywood.

Below:  "Craig Lauzon and Lorne Cardinal star in Thunderstick, which opens Wednesday at the Firehall Arts Centre."


Burt said...

The only way natives can counter Hollywood and the mainstream medias contant barrage of stereotypical portrayals is to simply create and maintain native owned studios and productions themselves.

Hollywood and the networks are stuck in a timewarp of what is and what is not going to be popularly viewed by audiences and primetime successes.

Why do you think film and television keeps repeating the same old storylines and 70's sitcom remakes?

They claim there are no writers or material, but in truth, there are not more white writers with new material, and if a writer comes along that happens to be native, Asian or Latino, they have to sell out to executives that want white actors to replace native and minority charachters.

Almost every new major film or sitcom that comes along on the big screen or TV has been done and redone over and over again in some form and fashion. Same plots, same comedy, same punch lines and sometimes the same actors.

Since American audiences are so hynotized and brainwashed into thinking only Anglo actors can drive cars or jump from an airplane, I think it is long over due for minorities and native talent to avoid Hollywood and mainstream media.

I am particularly proud of my Canadian natives up north, they seem to be a huge step ahead of American natives and are not prone to seek out the Hollywood or network executive approvals!

Rob said...

Canadians have the government-subsidized APTN, which is a huge advantage. Without that, I'm not sure Canada would be much different from the US in this regard.