Woody Allen Talks Lack of Black Actors in Films

Filmmaker: 'You hire people based on who is correct for part'

(Image: IMDB)

The New York Observer recently published a profile on Woody Allen, which is sure to be met with mixed reactions—with some being groans.

The writer of the piece, Roger Friedman, went down the usual list of accomplishments and little-known-facts about the veteran filmmaker. As the chat went on, the author dug in his heels and asked Allen why there has been few to no black actors prominently featured in any of his films.

Sergio Harford of Shadow And Act wrote about the few exceptions to Allen’s proverbial rule about casting black performers in his films. “Midnight in Paris” featured Sonia Rolland as Josephine Baker, although she played the background as an extra with no lines.”Deconstructing Harry” had Hazelle Goodman as a prostitute. Chiwetel Ejiofor was credited with the “most significant presence of a black actor in a Woody Allen film” when he appeared in “Melinda and Melinda.”

Yet, instead of listing these accreditations, Woody Allen appeared “horrified” when the subject came up in the Observer interview.

“We talk about the new generation of wonderful black actors like Viola Davis and wonder if they’ll ever be cast in a Woody Allen film,” Freidman wrote. “He doesn’t hesitate to respond: ‘Not unless I write a story that requires it. You don’t hire people based on race. You hire people based on who is correct for the part,” Allen says.” “I cast only what’s right for the part. Race, friendship means nothing to me except who is right for the part.”

Allen admits that he doesn’t hire based on race, yet doesn’t write any diverse scripts to be turned into films. His love of New York City, which is one of the most racially diverse places in America, always appears to be lily-white whenever Allen focuses on the subject. The very contradictory statement made by the veteran screenwriter would lead one to believe that there would never be a time where he would hire anyone diverse because he wouldn’t write a story that would require it.

Instead of putting coals to Allen’s feet about his lack of variety on film, Friedman allows Woody to shift the conversation to his one black friend—Chris Rock. “I took Chris out to dinner one time when we were in Rome,” Allen admitted to Friedman. “I don’t have any white friends either,” he mused.

Does Woody Allen’s behavior surprise you? Should he feature more performers of color in his films? Or is it his right to create how he sees fit? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

SOURCE: New York Observer

  • The author left out the black actor who portrayed a sperm in “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask.” The guy even had a line. That got a laugh. I guess that fellow was “appropriate for the part.”

  • Lauren

    Well you cannot force someone to do something that they do not have to do. They are HIS movies so he can depict what he wants. I do not agree with this but that is the way it is.We need to create our own things if we want to see proper depictions of ourselves.

  • Sepia Cinema Network

    It is Allen’s right to create the film he wants. It is my right not to support the film by buying a ticket. We all have rights.

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  • JHenry

    Woody Allen or any other person can write, direct, cast, play, or anything else they would desire if it’s his or hers. People write, sing, live, and portray where they come from. So why should anyone be upset for him or anyone else answering a question the way he did if maturity and truth is in the room.
    If we want to see a specific subject in anything than we should create it or go where it’s being created. Stop begging people to produce things that you want to see with their time, money, and energy, you can’t fault Woody Allen or anyone else for what they make, it belongs to them. Remember Denzel’s line in American Gangster “when you own something you can call it what you want” better yet, when you produce or make something you can put whatever and whoever in it you want.

  • greg

    No one should dictate who should be who’s film. If Woody won’t hire black actors so what? We’re not MLK asking Kennedy for our civil rights. It is not a right. It’s not an entitlement.

  • Kimberly Moseberry

    With all the black film makers and creators out here you mean to tell me. This child rapist is the first thing that came to your minds?

  • braidedgirl

    Woody Allen is a white man, who knows nothing about black culture, so why should you expect him to cast blacks in his films. The one time he does cast a black woman, she has to be a “HOE”. So that shows you how much he gives a damn about putting blacks in his films. Woody Allen is a bit overrated most of his films are about some negative guy with hypochondria trying to figure out life. Only white people want to see some shit like that, blacks ain’t interested.