Hollywood's whitewashing epidemic continues with the casting of Charlie Hunnam in American Drug Lord. The Sons of Anarchy actor will tackle the role of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a notorious Mexican-American drug lord whose story was told in a 2011 Rolling Stone profile.
Villarreal is often called “La Barbie” because of his blonde hair, blue eyes, and skin complexion, which may be the reason Legendary Pictures selected Hunnam for the role. However, selecting a white English dude to play a Texas native involved in the Mexican drug cartel is just another example of Hollywood’s diversity problem.
April Reign, the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, told the Los Angeles Times that movie studios must be open-minded when choosing actors.
“From the very start, don’t just assume that a white man or woman can play a particular role,” the activist said. “Open your minds to exploring the same film with a different person."
This close-minded approach to casting has led to major criticism directed at Hollywood’s movie studios. Backlash came in droves after Ridley Scott cast Christian Bale as Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings. Both men were forced to respond to the whitewashing allegations. The 78-year-old director told Variety that Hollywood wouldn’t have offered the $140 million to make the film if it starred “Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such.”
That’s a large part of the problem. Opportunities are limited for actors of color if only white actors are considered bankable.
Time and time again, Hollywood proves it doesn’t get the importance of diversity. Just add Mexican Drug Lord to that list.