the take

Mena Suvari in Cornrows Apparently Just As Marketable As Actual Black Actresses

Courtesy of THINKFilm

Jezebel smartly points out the ridiculousness of Mena Suvari being cast in Stuck, an independent film coming out tomorrow. In the film, Suvari plays Brandi, a young woman who hits a homeless man (Stephen Rea) with her car late one night and, panicking, drives home and parks in the garage with the clinging-to-life victim still embedded in her windshield. The movie is based on the true story of Chante Mallard, a black woman from Fort Worth, Texas who’s currently serving 50 years in prison. In playing the movie version of Chante, Suvari — in order to “establish Brandi as a particular kind of girl from a particular place” — wears her hair in cornrows and has “ghetto-fabulous nails.”

We don’t have a lot to add to Jezebel’s skewering of this casting move, in which a role that could have been played perfectly well by a black actress is given to a white one instead. But we do wonder — why Mena Suvari? We could almost understand this kind of move if you were trying to land an Oscar winner or a box-office draw (say, Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl). But Mena Suvari? She’s a fine but not great actor; her name puts zero butts in seats. So why not cast one of the many fantastic, underused black actresses with a fame level roughly equivalent to Suvari’s?

We would love to have seen, say, Viola Davis, or Sophie Okonedo, or Gina Torres, or N’Bushe Wright, or Sanaa Lathan, or Anika Noni Rose take on this part. (We came up with that list in like twenty seconds, by the way, so presumably professional casting directors could do even better.) Any one of these women likely would have been just as good as Suvari, would have resulted in a box office no worse than the meager box office this movie is likely to have anyway, and the whole thing wouldn’t make potential audience members like us — who would otherwise be interested in a crazy-creepy-sounding thriller like this — totally queasy.

Why Cast A Black Actress In Your Movie When You Can Get Mena Suvari In Cornrows? [Jezebel]

Mena Suvari in Cornrows Apparently Just As Marketable As Actual Black Actresses