the industry

Tracee Ellis Ross and Gina Rodriguez Talk to Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham About Being Women of Color in Hollywood

Preach. Photo: Michael Tran/Chelsea Lauren/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gina Rodriguez, Kate McKinnon, and Ellie Kemper are on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter’s latest issue. Inside the magazine, the six fierce comedians participate in a pretty great roundtable discussion about such topics as what they won’t do for a laugh (“I would never suck a dick,” swears Amy), being a showrunner, and … the “nude patch.” (The patch, as Dunham explains to Kemper, is apparently some glued-on cover for your lady parts.)

But the theme that emerges from their conversation is how difficult it is for others to fathom what it’s like to be a woman of color in Hollywood. “I never thought how bad it could be for you guys until I had a TV show and we had to do auditions,” Schumer tells Ross and Rodriguez. “Many black women who auditioned thought that we wanted them to be ‘sassy’ … we’re like, ‘No, just be yourself.’ I thought, That sucks. It meant they’d been in a lot of rooms where they were like, ‘Uh, can you be more like [snaps her finger].’” Dunham, again responding to criticism about her show’s lack of racial diversity, admits, “I’d been thinking so much about representing weirdo, chubby girls and strange half-Jews that I had forgotten that there was an entire world of women being underserved.”

Tracee and Gina broke down what they aren’t willing to put up with in casting:

Ross: There aren’t many [roles in film]. That’s why I say no to all the offers! [Laughs.] Working on a film is one job where you look at a casting breakdown and I’ll think, That’s me! But she’s not supposed to be black.

Rodriguez: 100 percent.

Ross: But I go for them, anyway. Gina, what’s been your experience?

Rodriguez: I remove myself instantly if something’s perpetuating a stereotype. But the only way to stop stereotypes is to say, “I’m going to wait for a journey that suits me.”

In other words, Gina may have been a star much earlier if Hollywood bothered to write better roles for minority women. Preach.

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