Diversity in Hollywood is an ongoing battle, a subject that is currently the hot button issue in the culture.
When it comes to the predominately Black, pro-Hip-Hop sensation that is Empire, apparently having an impressive résumé isn’t enough to whittle down the race barriers.
Variety recently profiled Ilene Chaiken of The L-Word fame and she gave insight on how John Singleton was initially given the runaround when it came time to direct his high-rated Empire episode, “Dangerous Bonds” during the first season.
“The initial response was the kind of automatic response, which is ‘We can’t, he’s never done it before. He doesn’t know how,’” she said the network told the team after Singleton had been personally recommended by Empire creator Lee Daniels.
“It’s that classic Catch-22 that plagues us in the television business,” said Chaiken. “You can’t do [TV] unless you’ve already done it.” Eventually he convinced them. “He went through a series of interviews and went about making everybody comfortable in the way he made me comfortable, and then we gave him that opportunity that doesn’t usually get given,” Chaiken recalls. “But it absolutely takes advocacy.”
In 1991, Singleton became the youngest director and first African-American to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director due to his cinematic Boyz n the Hood feature. His filmography largely consists of provocative movies that circulate around African-American culture and he has a previously worked with several of the Empire cast members, including its biggest star in Taraji P. Henson. But like Chaiken concluded, the TV game plays by its own set of rules.
Photo: Dave Bedrosian/Future Image/WENN.com
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