Even if you've never heard of Hollywood whitewashing, chances are you've seen it anyway. It's a kind of casting where film studios have placed white actors in lead roles under the assumption that the majority of Americans would rather see a white face than a non-white one—despite what the role calls for. And while Hollywood may not resort to putting actors in blackface anymore, the practice of just bending the race of a character is not an uncommon one. Hence, Jake Gyllenhaal playing a Persian.
The major problem with racebending and whitewashing—aside from, you know, it being deeply offensive—is that it takes roles from actors who actually are of that ethnicity/race. In turn, they get stuck with minor roles that only serve to supplement the story of the white lead, or with stereotyped roles. For instance: If you're Middle Eastern, you'll be cast as a terrorist.
To demonstrate what a common practice this is, we look at 25 minority characters in major films that were portrayed by Caucasian actors, whether in make-up or not.
Written by Tanya Ghahremani (@tanyaghahremani)