Chris Rock sheds light on the hurdles minorities face in a still reluctant and conservative industry, as reported in the December issue of the Hollywood Reporter.
“Now I’m not Murphy, but I’ve done fine. And I try to help young black guys coming up because those people took chances on me. Eddie didn’t have to put me in Beverly Hills Cop II. Keenen Wayans didn’t have to put me in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. Arsenio didn’t have to let me on his show. I’d do the same for a young white guy, but here’s the difference: Someone’s going to help the white guy. Multiple people will. The people whom I’ve tried to help, I’m not sure anybody was going to help them.”
The famous actor, comedian and producer, recollects some of his past experiences, on not being considered to play larger roles in films, on account of his race and the preconceptions of what the industry sees actors of color playing.
“I remember when they were doing Starsky & Hutch, and my manager was like, “We might be able to get you the part of Huggy Bear,” which eventually went to Snoop Dogg. I was like: “Do you understand that when my brother and I watched Starsky & Hutch growing up, I would play Starsky and he would play Hutch? I don’t want to play f—ing Huggy Bear. This is not a historical drama. This is not Thomas Jefferson. It’s a movie based on a shitty TV show, it can be anybody. Who cares.”
“You can go to whole movies and not see one black woman. They’ll throw a black guy a bone. OK, here’s a black guy. But is there a single black woman in Interstellar? Or Gone Girl? Birdman? The Purge? Neighbors?”
Chris further discusses his thoughts on the universalism of comedy, outside of race, and how black films, and black culture by extension, have become mainstream (with mainstream expectations), yet still remain ostracized by a white lead industry.
“I really don’t think there’s any difference between what black audiences find funny and what white audiences find funny, but everyone likes to see themselves onscreen, so there are some instances where there’s a black audience laughing at something that a white audience wouldn’t laugh at because a black audience is really just happy to see itself.”
Furthermore, Chris Rock recants an early realization during his time living in Los Angeles and witnessing a whole population servicing an industry they can never hope to be a part of.
“But forget whether Hollywood is black enough. A better question is: Is Hollywood Mexican enough? You’re in L.A, you’ve got to try not to hire Mexicans. It’s the most liberal town in the world, and there’s a part of it that’s kind of racist — not racist like “F— you, n-” racist, but just an acceptance that there’s a slave state in L.A. There’s this acceptance that Mexicans are going to take care of white people in L.A. that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”