A White Actor Is Playing Michael Jackson in a Movie -- How's That for Diversity?

A one-off special for SkyArts tells one of the weirdest 9/11 stories that may or may not be true. Following the 9/11 terror attacks, Marlon Brando, Liz Taylor, and Michael Jackson set off on a road trip together. Another weird aspect of this dramatization? The role of Michael Jackson is set to be played by Joseph Fiennes. A white actor. 


This dramatization is adapted from a story that ran in Vanity Fair about Taylor, Jackson, and Brando attempting to flee a city in crisis. It seems like it could be an interesting concept for a movie. The issue I have is that there is absolutely no reason a white actor needs to play the part of the iconic Michael Jackson, who, despite his skin condition of vitiligo, was a black man. There are plenty of black actors who could easily slip into Michael's rhinestone-studded glove. 

Since the Academy Awards announced the nominations for the Oscars on January 14, actors, directors, and others have reacted to the diversity issue in Hollywood. Viola Davis stated to ET when asked about the issue: 

How many black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed? The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role? Can you cast a black woman in that role? Can you cast a black man in that role?

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And, yes, you can obviously cast a black actor to play the role of a black celebrity. Here's the deal: If we want things to change, it's going to have to start with Hollywood. Produce more diverse movies. Tell more diverse stories. And above all, give roles that portray black celebrities to black people. 


Image via © Michael Hurcomb/Corbis

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