• Thu, Aug 4 2011

Selena Gomez And 14 Other Actors Who Played A Different Ethnicity

Did you hear this one? Rumors are circulating that an adaptation of Candace Bushnell’s prequel novels to Sex and the CityThe Carrie Diaries and Summer in the City–are in the works. No, the prequel won’t star the original ladies as heavily CGI-ed versions of themselves but rather some of Hollywood’s young starlets of the moment: Blake Lively as Samantha, Elizabeth Olsen as Carrie, Emma Roberts as Miranda, and Selena Gomez as Charlotte.

Hold up. Mexican-American Selena Gomez will play ultimate WASP Charlotte York?

This may just be a casting rumor, but it does raise some timeless questions about the representation of race and ethnicity in Hollywood. Here are some examples from classic and recent cinema of actors taking on roles outside their race or ethnicity.

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  • Gloria

    Not a big fan of Selena Gomez and not sure if it would actually work for that role, but it’s nice to see that an Hispanic actor can be cast as something different than a maid, a gang member or an illegal immigrant.

    • Lulu

      Or the nanny!

  • andrea dunlop

    OMG I thought the prequel was a joke. Better than SATC 3 the golden years I guess.

  • Emily

    Mickey Rooney is HILARIOUS in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

  • Rachel

    Robert Downey Jr. was BRILLIANT in that movie. I could hardly believe it was him the whole movie.

  • cara

    Johnny Depp is Native American

  • Jess

    You forgot Al Pacino as Scarface! Italian guy as Cuban!

  • Tina

    Johnny Depp is of Native American decent, so therefore should be excluded from this list.

    Obama is biracial I have no idea what Fred Armisen is so I think this should be excluded too.

    Oh and what about the actress from Imitation life. She was a white woman playing an biracial woman

    • Joanna Arcieri

      Johnny Depp doesn’t identify as Native American whereas an actor like Adam Beach does. That is the difference.

      Fred Armisen is Japanese/Venezuelan/German, making when he darkens his skin to play Obama or David Paterson or Kharzei only more complicated.

  • Tobi

    I’m pretty sure Johnny Depp’s family in Kentucky has Native American roots.

  • Lisa

    How about Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, with her blonde hair and blue contacts? Or Olga Kurylenko in Quantum of Solace, with her super fake tan?

  • Babs

    Selena Gomez is a gorgeous girl of Mexican and Italian descent. I’m not sure she’s a dead ringer for young Charlotte, but I’m happy to see her getting a chance if the rumors are true. People playing a race different from theirs isn’t a big, new thing in my opinion…all you have to do is look to history where all parts – even those of women and slaves of different racial backgrounds – were played by white men.

  • Lulu

    Usually Mexicans are part anglo and part indigineous but they can also be fully anglo, jewish, asian, black or a combination.

    Selena Gomez’s father is hispanic (again, usually a mix of anglo and indigenous) and mother is anglo. I don’t see why the author is so surprised that she could play a white person.

    Would the author have made any noise about Alexis Bledel getting the part? Because Alexis’ parents are fully Spanish-speaking, Latino born- Mom is Mexican and Dad is Argentine.

    The only difference is coloring.

    • Joanna

      … I’m hardly surprised. Selena Gomez plays white characters in almost every role she has ever had and I don’t expect her to limited to just Hispanic characters because she is Hispanic. But her playing Charlotte, a very specific character with a longstanding backstory that audiences will know going into any prequel, has different implications. If this even happens – Michael Patrick King has denied that he is working on a prequel.

  • Ro

    Um, who cares? Making an issue out of the ones that aren’t blatantly racist (as in the older Hollywood films–Katherine Hepburn as an Asian woman is so, so wrong) is pointless and stupid. You say there aren’t any black actors SNL could pull out to play Obama? Well, ok, let’s be more specific and make sure they find a half-black, half-white actor. Fred Armisen does a good impression of him. That’s all that matters.

    I think the major point of contention about these actresses that will play younger versions of the SATC women is that… none of them look like the original actresses.

  • Naomi

    So no one remembers Ben Kingsley playing Gandhi?

    • PKBitchGirl

      Ben Kingsley isn’t his birth name though, if you google him you’ll find his birth name is completely Indian

  • Angantyr

    Of course people remember Ben Kingsley as Gandhi, Naomi, but the thing is that he is an ethnic Indian born in the UK. Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji, a very Indian name. Infact his father’s family was Gujarati, like Gandhi-ji himself.

  • Angantyr

    I am glad that others have mentioned this. Johnny Depp is Native American…infact he only looks Native American. That is a bad inclusion on the list. He is unsure whether he is Cherokee or Creek, however.

  • Steve O’Rourke

    Italian-American Al Pacino as a Cuban gangster. Irishman Liam Neeson as a German industrialist and Anglo-Indian Ben Kingsley as a Jew (plus all those Englishmen as Nazis in countless films). Jewish Eli Wallach as a Mexican bandit. Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel as French army officers. And Anthony Quinn made an entire career of playing a multiplicity of ethnicities.