Hollywood has come a long way when it comes to diversity. Over the years, Hollywood has moved from using blackface and white-washing roles and films to marvels like Black Panther.
But is Hollywood diverse enough? According to Pakistani American actor Kumail Nanjiani, they need to work on it. We can’t blame him when people still can’t tell the difference between him and Riz Ahmed, or Kunal Penn, or Dev Patel (see what we mean?).
The Pakistani-American comedian went a step further and even named names (just a name actually).
Everyone Named Chris
Kumail Nanjiani says “everyone named Chris” has all the power in the industry. The Big Sick star made the statement while speaking at the dedicatory Empowerment in Entertainment Gala. The perfect place to bring up diversity and inclusivity in the biz.
“Everyone named Chris has all the power, and this gala is about sharing that power with people with less bankable names.”
Now that we’ve established Chris has the power, what does power mean? The actor and writer then got real on the difference between power and empowerment.
“Power is all about what you’ve done for yourself. Empowerment is about what you’ve done for others — that you can then brag about to others at power lunches.”
The Silicon Valley actor didn’t stop there. Kumail Nanjiani then moved on the question we’re all too afraid to ask. Is this inclusivity a passing trend (like Kung Fu movies)?
On the vitality of including people from all walks of life with varying identities in movies, they feel represented in. This includes all women (no matter the gender identity), the disabled, and the LGBTQ communities, as well as people from religious backgrounds (we all know what Christmas is).
“Give people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, women, persons with disabilities, women of colour, the LGBTQ communities, people of colour, women, people of varying religions and women more opportunities to make the kinds of movies and TV shows that Hollywood lets all of Chris’s make.”
Kumail Might Become a Chris
Kumail Nanjiani was nominated for an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay for The Big Sick in 2018. The Pakistani-American comedian was tired of being cast in roles that the white lens saw him through. So he wrote and produced The Big Sick
The comedian pointed out that Hollywood ‘erases groups of people and doesn’t reflect the world we live in‘. Which kills the main objective of a diverse cast and inclusivity.
While he’s calling out Chris’ he might soon join their ranks (just in a movie though, relax).
Kumail Nanjiani is currently in talks to work with Angelina Jolie in the upcoming Marvel film The Eternals. The Eternals cast Angelina as Sersei suspected to be a Celestial (good guys), we don’t know anything about Kumails’s character.
Marvel has released three major films with actors called Chris, namely Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Pratt as Star Lord.
So will Kumail join the ranks of the Chris’ or will he end up playing a villain like Farhan Tahir? Yes, the only Pakistani actor ever cast in a Marvel film was cast as an antagonist (see what we mean about diverse cast does not equal inclusivity).
Funny thing is Kumail Nanjiani will also be seen in Men in Black: International with Chris Hemsworth (something is up!).