Color-Blind Screenwriting

So I wrote a script some years ago that did fairly well in competition and received encouraging feedback. But one reader was annoyed that I hadn’t delineated the ethnicities of the characters. To be clear, the script is about four post-college friends, two men and two women. And the reader has a point—in order to picture the characters better, he wanted to know more about what they look like.

Certainly, when I write something, I have a mental image of my characters. And my job as a writer is to take what I see and put it in other people’s heads so they see it too. But in the case of this particular script, though I had ideas about the characters, the parts seem very open to me. These could be any four friends.

Casting directors would hate that. They want to narrow it down. (One reader suggested Jonah Hill and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the two male roles.) But in the face of uproar over the “white Oscars,” I like to think a script like mine would be a great chance for minorities. Because it’s a shame that Idris Elba and Michael B. Jordan got overlooked, but there are also few great parts for minorities. In order to get nominated they first need to have opportunities.

Now, I’m not saying my script should be cast as some diversity stew. Diversity for the sake of it doesn’t work either. I’d need to go look at the script again to see what would make sense. But it’s something to consider. While the script did well in competition and has been through the hands of many [white male] indie directors (one comp called it “perfect for the A-list indie scene”), it has yet to find a home. Maybe it could find life under other circumstances. And then a minority like me (female screenwriter) might also get somewhere.

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Don’t want to read a script? Try my latest novel instead. Reviews call it “compelling” and “incredibly written.” The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller.

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