Why Aren't More Actresses Of Color Featured In Big Budget Movie Franchises?

Tessa Thompson in Thor
PHOTO: DISNEY/MARVEL STUDIOS

Tessa Thompson plays Valkyrie in ThorRagnarok, the funniest installment of the Thor film franchise, and one of the best Marvel pictures of them all. A lot of that has to do with Thompson, who is dazzling as the swashbuckling, ex-elite Asgardian warrior who captures her brethren and drags him to the arena. 

It's obvious that the role could have gone to someone white, but the addition of Thompson — in all her complexity — gave the film and the role gravitas. Not to mention, she's an amazing actress whose path to fame is now nearly absolute. 

Performances like these are why people argue for the inclusion of people-of-color in general and actresses-of-color in particular when it comes to roles everywhere. The added layer of diversity adds a level of understanding to the role and to the world in which that role lives that doesn't exist otherwise.

And she's not the only one. Imagine a woman of color in a film like Blade Runner2049 or if a potentially amazing film like Ghost In The Shell actually had an Asian lead character? There are so many franchises that could be elevated by actresses-of-color: their verve, their non-western beliefs, their different upbringings. 

So many times, Twitter has become arrested with non-sensical casting decisions that white-wash roles made for people of color. Even as it becomes clear that films with a swathe of actors of different ethnicities tend to do better than their all-white counterparts. In 2015, the Washington Post pointed out this exact fact. More recently, the Los Angeles Times spoke about how the success of minority films or films with minority lead/supporting actors are often swept under the rug. "Every time there's a success, it gets swept under the rug," said Jeff Clanagan, president of Lionsgate's Codeblack Films, which primarily produces films with African American casts, in the piece. "It's almost like there's an asterisk on it. They chalk it off as an anomaly."

Well, it's time for Hollywood to wake up!

In fact, here, we give you 11 actresses-of-color that would be sure to add new life to any big budget franchise that's out there. 

Yara Shahidi
PHOTO: @YARASHAHIDI
1 / 11

Yara Shahidi

Imagine Jedi Mace Windu (last played by Samuel L. Jackson) has a daughter, a prodigy in the force, and that character is played by Yara Shahidi. Perfect, huh?

Latitia Wright

Latitia Wright

Latitia Wright is already gracing the big screen as Shuri in Marvel's Black Panther, but we could see her livening up the James Bond franchise as a young Money Penny, with Idris Alba as James Bond of course.

Zazie Beetz
PHOTO: @ZAZIEBEETZ
3 / 11

Zazie Beetz

The Atlanta star Zazie Beetz has folks already enlightened, as she'll be tearing up the screen as Domino in Deadpool 2.

Kiersey Clemons
PHOTO: @KIERSEY
4 / 11

Kiersey Clemons

DC got the memo, since Clemons will be starring as Iris West, the Flash's love interest, in at least the next two films for the brand behemoth.

Ming-Na Wen
PHOTO: @MINGNA_WEN
5 / 11

Ming-Na Wen

When they do decide to make another Ghost In The Shell, let's get Ming-Na Wen in the leading role.

Dascha Polanco
6 / 11

Dascha Polanco

As one of the stars of Orange Is The New Black, Dascha Polanco's proven star power and Latin heritage could certainly bring her talents to any romantic comedy anywhere and everywhere.

Constance Wu
7 / 11

Constance Wu

In her upcoming film Crazy Rich Asians, it's already come out that a Hollywood producer wanted to whitewash her character, the heroine. Luckily, the book's author, which the movie is based, didn't budge. We're glad he didn't, and could see Constance as the main character of a Transformers film in the future. We all know there'll be one.

Lena Waithe
8 / 11

Lena Waithe

Master Of None co-writer and co-star gave an impassioned speech at this year's Emmy Awards. We'd like to see her talent stretch in more directions. In fact, we're pretty sure the next Pirates Of The Caribbean flat out needs her.

Issa Rae
9 / 11

Issa Rae

The Nora Ephron of our generation, Issa Rae, should be both starring in and at the helm of major Hollywood rom-coms for the foreseeable future.

Laverne Cox
10 / 11

Laverne Cox

If Laverne Cox (Orange Is The New Black) isn't in Fast & Furious 9 we're gonna be pissed!

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