How Hollywood Sees Me ... And How I Want to Be Seen

Actors of color often get typecast. Two photographers asked them to depict their dream roles instead.
Dan Chen’s typecast role is doctor. His ideal role? Captain America.
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Since the dawn of Hollywood, nonwhite actors have been asked to play stereotypes — from maids to immigrants to thugs — while struggling to get cast in layered, authentic roles. In order to highlight this phenomenon, we decided to photograph actors in two ways: embodying the typecast roles that they have been asked to play and imagining the roles that they aspire to play.

In March 2018, we sent out our first Craigslist ad: a simple casting call for minority actors who had experienced cultural typecasting. Our initial encounters helped us understand the prevalence of this problem; we then further refined our search by reaching out to companies that managed minority actors, like New York-based Multi-Ethnic Talent agency. We photographed actors based in New York individually over the course of 2018 and 2019. In spring 2019, we photographed actors living in Los Angeles during a workshop session at Photoville LA, an event held at the Annenberg Space for Photography. In total, the project took about two years to complete.

We hope that these photos encourage viewers to reflect on the way that stereotypes persist in mass culture. And we hope they allow people to envisage a world where all Americans can see themselves represented — in all ways — on the screen.

Aamira Martinez

Typecast role: Housemaid.
Ideal role: Jessica Jones.
LEFT: Typecast role: Housemaid. RIGHT: Ideal role: Jessica Jones.

Antoine T. Lee

Typecast role: Hip-hop dancer.
Ideal role: Fred Astaire.
LEFT: Typecast role: Hip-hop dancer. RIGHT: Ideal role: Fred Astaire.

Tasneem Nanji

Typecast role: Hijabi.
Ideal role: Punk rocker.
LEFT: Typecast role: Hijabi. RIGHT: Ideal role: Punk rocker.

Jennifer Khoe

Typecast role: Geisha.
Ideal role: Supergirl.
LEFT: Typecast role: Geisha. RIGHT: Ideal role: Supergirl.

Fady Kerko

Typecast role: Bodega owner.
Ideal role: Gangster.
LEFT: Typecast role: Bodega owner. RIGHT: Ideal role: Gangster.

Nik Dodani

Typecast role: Nerd.
Ideal role: Wizard.
LEFT: Typecast role: Nerd. RIGHT: Ideal role: Wizard.

Christine Suero

Typecast role: Prostitute.
Ideal role: Lawyer.
LEFT: Typecast role: Prostitute. RIGHT: Ideal role: Lawyer.

Haruka Sakaguchi and Griselda San Martin are photographers in New York. View more photos from this project at typecastproject.com.

Photo editing by Dudley M. Brooks. Design by Christian Font.

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