Woody Allen's Reason For Not Hiring Black Actors Is As Cringeworthy As You'd Expect
For a guy whose life tends to be filled with controversy, Woody Allen managed to survive the Magic in the Moonlight hatred relatively unscathed; sure, the movie may have gotten poor reviews, but most critics stayed focused on the storyline and dialogue, not the personal life of its famed director. It seemed possible that Allen could actually manage to go the entire summer without stirring up scandal — and then he decided to open his mouth, telling an interviewer his views on hiring black actors, and spoiler alert, they're just as cringeworthy as you'd expect.
In an interview with The New York Observer, Allen was asked about the lack of black actors in his movies; of the 46 films he's made throughout his career, hardly any of them have featured actors of color. The filmmaker was apparently "horrified" when the topic was brought up, and said that it's "stupid" to think that he purposely doesn't hire black actors — but then, asked if he ever would hire them, his answer seemed to be a pretty solid "no."
“Not unless I write a story that requires it," Allen said. "You don’t hire people based on race. You hire people based on who is correct for the part... I cast only what’s right for the part. Race, friendship means nothing to me except who is right for the part.”
Once the actual meaning of that convoluted statement is detangled, the contradictions in Allen's beliefs become crystal clear; he says race means nothing to him, and yet in order to cast a black actor in a role, the story has to require it? Seeing as few of Allen's movies have had characters who simply had to be white because of the plot or setting, there's no reason black actors couldn't fit any of his films' roles just fine. What must the story be for it to "require" a black actor, in Allen's mind? Chances are, he's not planning a movie about an era in black history anytime soon, so it'd have to be just a regular character in some regular setting — meaning that it'll likely never happen, because those are the roles Allen deems fit only for white actors.
The saddest part is, he's probably not the only director who thinks this way. For many filmmakers, casting a person of color is done solely out of necessity for the part, or at the insistence of a studio. Their first instinct is to fill their ensembles with white actors, only considering those of other races when it's "right," in Allen's words. Allen may get the heat because of being brazen enough to say his views out loud, but chances are, he has far more company in that department than audiences would like to think.
Still, the fact is that it is Allen taking the heat, and rightfully so; his beliefs on this topic are just further evidence that the quality of one's art doesn't always reflect the quality of one's character, and in his case, the two entities are as separate as can be. Perhaps any uproar over these latest comments will convince the director to cast a few black actors in his next movie, but even if he does, no one will be under the illusion that his actions are genuine. Allen may be a fantastic filmmaker, but as a person, he's just lost the last shreds of respect for him anyone had left.