Black Voices

Gina Prince-Bythewood On Studio Executives' 'Disheartening' Response To Casting Black Actors

When director Gina Prince-Bythewood set out to make her latest film, "Beyond the Lights," she thought her script felt commercial, but studio executives had an idea about how to make it even more commercial -- cutting back on the number of black actors she cast.

Prince-Bythewood, who has written and directed films like "Love & Basketball" and "The Secret Life of Bees," spoke with HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri on Thursday about the reactions she got from studios as she developed "Beyond the Lights." That included questions like whether certain characters needed to be black and if she would consider casting Channing Tatum instead of African American actor Nate Parker.

"It's disheartening, I have to say, to go studio to studio and keep hearing the same thing," she said.

So how exactly do big studios justify their requests for less diverse casting?

"They couch it as, 'We need stars in the film,'" Prince-Bythewood explained. "The list of African American stars is [very small] because there's no farm system. We're not developing new stars because so few films are made with us in them."

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