Viola Davis, Tom Hanks Talk Diversity in Television and Film

Though diversity in casting has been strong on television recently, progress in feature films has been slower, Viola Davis and Tom Hanks discussed in a one-on-one interview for Variety‘s Actors on Actors.

Hanks, who recently starred in the drama “Sully,” noted that although diversity is a “bonanza” in television, the economics of film creates a barrier to increasing diversity.

“(When) the economics of a movie comes along, that has to play in China, or has to play overseas, simply in order to make its investment back, it ends up being one of the boundaries of being as diverse,” Hanks said.

Davis, who stars in the drama “Fences” as well as on “How to Get Away With Murder” on TV, discussed the barriers and expectations that people of color face in the world of film.

“Even in fabulous roles, they are still within the confines of being ‘strong,’ ‘a device,’ ‘funny,'” Davis said. “If it’s a black movie, at best it’s a biopic because it makes the audience feel comfortable that I am investing in this black person’s humanity, who I already know has made a mark in the world.”

Davis explained that the biggest tool an actor or writer has is his or her imagination, but for people of color in film, even that is threatened as well.

“I’m sorry, but that is the one tool that is tossed out the window when it comes to people of color,” Davis says.

For more, tune in when the fifth season premieres Jan. 3 on PBS SoCal, presented by The Venetian Las Vegas. Click here to see the full video.

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