Monday, April 18, 2016

Fleshed-Out Characters

It's student film season. Backstage and Casting Networks are brimming with roles in films for NYFA, SVA, and NYU students.

I have my usual gripes. Broken single mothers, girlfriend to protagonist. Women are so frequently lead-adjacent. Women can be people and have characteristics of their own! However many first projects are just loving imitations of existing culture, and female characters are still having a difficult time at the box-office (action figures of Rey, anyone?). Students have yet to hear of the Bechdel test. Fine.

Ah yes, here we are. Stripper.  I would like to sit down each of these students and ask them how many strippers they know, and what they based the characters on. Are all of them really parroting what they learned from watching The Wire, and Law and Order: SVU?

I am not a sex worker. I have had friends who are. I do not think I can speak authentically to their varied experiences. Am I supposed to believe that every 19-year-old student can?

Devil's advocate: maybe the student has never run a company, organized a heist, or had a serious relationship, and we make movies about those things all the time. I say to you this may not be entirely different, but it is the least grounded, the least three-dimensional, the most repetitive trope.

I, as an adult female actor, have so few roles available to me. An alarming number of the roles in my inbox  sadly read Broken Sex Object. A stripper with a heart of gold who is conflicted about leaving her lifestyle for the One Man who can take her away from All Of This.

Dear students: please write something else. Maybe you haven't had your heart properly broken yet, you are afraid to write romance. Maybe you don't have the budget for car chases and explosions.

You are capable of so much more. Write me a role that's not a stripper. Try.

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