Diversity in entertainment has been a blisteringly hot topic for years now. And while the movie industry progressing so slowly they're being lapped by hypothermic turtles, television is at the forefront of making meaningful strides. This fall, Fox is debuting 24: Legacy starring Straight Outta Compton's Corey Hawkins and Pitch and a series imagining the black and female MLB pitcher. NBC heaps on the family feels with This Is Us. The OWN Network is also making a power move to steal broadcast eyeballs with Queen Sugar created by visionary director Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey.
Meanwhile, CBS will roll out six new shows...all starring white men. Say it with me, y'all: #CBSSoWhite. Thankfully the media and frustrated television viewers have loudly voiced their distaste with CBS's problematic programming practices.
During their network panel at the Television Critics Association press tour last week, CBS entertainment president Glen Geller offered a pitiful and ham-fisted response to the pointed questions about the network's glaring lack of diversity. "We need to do better and we know it...We showed you some photos of 16 new series regulars, 11 of them are diverse. I know they’re not leads, but 11 are diverse and that is our commitment to diversity," Geller said, according to EW.com.
Translation: Inclusion is awesome for supporting characters whose only purpose is to serve the white leads, and can be killed off to evoke white pain come sweeps. See Yvette Nicole Brown's role as Oscar Madison's assistant in The Odd Couple reboot. And Taraji P. Henson's late Det. Joss Carter in Person Of Interest.
Since I sincerely believe CBS's heartfelt promise to do better and that it's not a half-assed rationale of their casting methods, I decided to do the heavy-lifting for them. So next season, there will be no excuse for the stars of their shows to look like the audience of a Donald Trump rally.
Here are 8 diverse actors who are long overdue for their own television shows…
With his princely good looks and stacked resume that includes the blockbuster Star Trek franchise and small screen credits in ABC’s cute-but-cancelled Selfie and the good season of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, Cho has all the range of a leading man who can sell action, romance, comedy, and sci-fi weirdness. All he needs is the opportunity. I regularly daydream about Cho leading dramedy that contains all three. StarringJohnCho, a twitter account dedicated to the actor's success, does too. Look at that, CBS, a built in fanbase!
If CBS is truly devoted to “do better” in terms of diversity, then it should have no problem finding a great series for dynamic actor Sarah Shahi. She’s starred in Person Of Interest, Chicago Fire and one of my short-lived faves, Life (alongside breakout star Damien Lewis). Earlier this year, CBS declined to pick up the modern re-imagining of the Nancy Drew series because it was deemed “too female.” (Yes, you read that right). CBS, of course, refutes those claims. They should put their money where their excuses are and invest in a show in which Shahi is a plays a vigilante who spends her days running a flower shop and her nights beating up bad boyfriends, cheating husbands and criminals.
If you loved seeing Nicole Beharie kick supernatural ass on the problematic Sleepy Hollow, then you would adore her in a new series that does the same and doesn’t treat her terribly. After a messy exit from the Fox sci-fi drama, her fans would flock to a series in which Beharie portrays a well-rounded character who loves, cries, fails and of course, slays.
Damon Wayans, Jr.
With Happy Endings long-cancelled and Coach just a memory on Fox’s New Girl, it’s high-time this Let’s Be Cops star returned to the small screen. The Big Bang Theory is showing its age, so Wayans Jr. could easily fill that void in a gut-gusting sitcom about a lovable dope named Damon.
It’s a Hollywood tragedy that Nia Long isn’t a household name since she’s starred in so many now classic movies and TV shows like Boyz In The Hood, Soul Food, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the Best Man movies. After decades of playing the girlfriend and the wife (most recently in ABC’s now cancelled Uncle Buck remake), Long is long overdue to show her chops. I envision her in a Black workplace legal dramedy that fills the gaping void left by Parks and Recreation and The Good Wife.
She broke our hearts as Rue in The Hunger Games, and stepped on the pieces as a paralyzed teenager on Sleepy Hollow. I’d love to see her grind the shards into dust in starring as a naïve college student in a fish-out-of-water family drama. This is something CBS, the network who never met a police procedural it didn’t like, desperately needs, especially with Supergirl flying to The CW.
Leslie Odom Jr.
I fell in love with Leslie Odom Jr. when he played a sassy demon on The CW’s Supernatural, years before he starred in Broadway’s record-breaking smash, Hamilton. He’s also killed in recurring roles on television staples, including Law & Order: SVU, Person Of Interest, and a supporting role in Smash, proving that he is a triple-threat in the truest form. If anyone can crush a starring role in a legal drama or as a brilliant-but-troubled anti-hero, it’s a Broadway star who did it eight shows a week live!
Photo Credits: kollaboration.com; zap2it.com; headoverfeels.com, comedyhype.com; the avclub.com; elle.com; ew.com
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Small Screen Girl
I am an unabashed pop culture and TV-aholic with no plans to ever seek treatment. Explore this blog and see just how deep my obsession goes.