Diversity and inclusion have long been discussed in many industries, roles and functions in the United States for as long as I can remember — especially in film and television. Growing up, I was always excited when I was able to see someone who “looked like me” on television or in a movie. I was even more shocked when said programs and films weren’t given the prefix “black” or “urban” for having a mostly or entirely Black cast. That did not happen often; it still doesn’t.
For years, it seemed as though “Hollywood” was making strides with diversity and inclusion. Then, slowly but surely, I started to see characters — real characters — portrayed who resembled people I knew of all races, genders, sexual orientation and other demographic and psyochgraphic complexities. More films than ever included people of color, Blacks especially — in leading and supporting roles– yet from the artistic works nominated at the 2016 Academy Awards it was hard to tell. Thus, the #OscarsSoWhite movement began in social media and other online venues.
People grew tired of seeing Black people and their contributions to film and television being overlooked. We are tired of seeing black people portrayed as drug dealers, idiots, convicts or as angry. These are some of the most negative and prominent portrayals. These characters are not reflective of me or my experience. It’s as if the “industry” doesn’t believe that we can be anything but a negative stereotype. We have so much depth, talent and are extremely multi-faceted. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Comedic playwrights and TV/screenwriters Marina and Nicco thought so, too. Their acclaimed play, Room 4, uses satire to depict what it’s like for almost every Black actor trying to “make it” in the film industry.
Room 4 is a hysterical, satirical play about four black actors who get stuck in a time loop while auditioning for the same role (friend of a drug dealer) and the cycle becomes a living nightmare as they battle their dream and the expectations of the industry why trying to get out. Raw, real and definitely not for the faint of hear, the four actors try stand up for themselves and stick it to the casting directors, and then they are freed.
Aside from a riveting discussion about Black Twitter versus “regular” Twitter, one of my favorite lines is in the entire play was, “You’re not stuck in a room, but sometimes the outside is stuck out of you.” The first time I saw Room 4, I didn’t really get it; but this last time I did. Essentially, of the actors had the ability to get himself off this typecast merry-go-round.
If you haven’t seen Room 4, you are seriously missing out. If you are an actor, aspiring actor or know someone who is, purchase your tickets today and go see Room 4 at the People’s Improve Theater. I took my 10 year old aspiring thespian to see the show, and she absolutely LOVED it.
Here are the remaining show times:
- Friday, November 11 at 8 pm
- Saturday, November 12 at 5pm
- Sunday, December 4 at 5pm