Writers Recount Racist and Sexist WTF Moments in Screenwriting Industry
Color me surprised.
As a writer, I dabble in all sorts of writing. Fanfiction? Count me in. Poetry? You know I got you! Short stories? Yes, please. Screenwriting? Well … sort of. I’ve always wanted to dive into this exhausting, yet rewarding-looking world of creative minds who bring their stories to life for the big or small screen.
But then there are those jarring moments, like the tweet below by Marti King Young, writer and director of White Talon City, that remind you how hard it is to be a woman or a person of color (Latinx, for me) in the screenwriting industry.
— 🦋🦋 Marti King Young 🦋🦋 (@scrnwriterchic) February 2, 2021
The responses … were jarring, to say the least. Some were asked to make their Latinx characters more Latinx, as if we need to have an empanada in one hand a tamale in the other to distinguish ourselves. Others were told by their teachers that “Black kids don’t write like this,” as if there’s a standard that Black writers have to live or die by. And others were just unbothered to ask things of a community they know nothing about.
Make your Latino family more Latino. Like have them make tamales for Christmas. I have never, in my life made tamales. My mom made them TWICE – both times failed miserably. We make ham or Pozo me, usually both, for Cmas – even when we lived in Mexico.
— Ana Lydia Monaco (@analydiamonaco) February 2, 2021
…..the time someone told me a play that I had not written to be coded as Jewish sounded “Jewish” and insisted I add Russian or Jewish lullabies into the play. https://t.co/7BLODuf3mG
— Reuven “Jewish Space Laser” Glezer (@ReuvenGlezer) February 3, 2021
A white male working TV writer told me the Latinx character in my pilot needed to be “spicier” so people would understand she was Latinx, and to maybe forgo the “military veteran who lost her legs to an IED” angle I gave her because it confused the character from being Latinx. https://t.co/gv28aGZoKV
— Kyle F Andrews (@kylefandrews) February 2, 2021
White Male exec said my 13 year old Latinx hero would never crack snarky jokes at her mother. Dude, maybe not your daughter who went to private school but this is based on my cousin and we grew up in Anaheim and also your daughter does too it’s just on insta
— A.P. de la Caridad (@Coloropolis) February 2, 2021
Wrote a Desi character into my show and an exec said:
“she seems too regular, I wanna see her be really fucking Indian” https://t.co/Bf68PZzne0
— Election Freud (@JustinHantz) February 3, 2021
But, wait! There’s more! Then there were the sexist comments by execs, studios, and other writers who were reading screenplays by women. Some were surprised women could write action, like we’re only dainty flowers who love romances. (Romances are fantastic and a girl can love some round house kicks too.) Others didn’t even want to read screenplays by women. And God forbid if women swear, as if we’re delicate enough to faint at a curse word passing our lips! *shocked gasp*
A reader said they didn’t like all the swearing – because a woman shouldn’t write like that
A producer rang my [ex] agent and asked if “he has anything else we can read” agent replies “he’s a she”
Producer didn’t want to read anything else.
Girls can write action too you know!
— 😷 Welcome to the 21st (@siobhan_shivaun) February 2, 2021
I once had someone outright tell me as a woman I couldn’t write realistic men and I was too young to write believable older women.
Apparently none of this applied to him since he was a male writer writing about the whole life of a FEMALE protagonist 🙄 https://t.co/RmPYnPniQ5
— Ivonne Spinoza (@IvonneSpinoza) February 3, 2021
Wrote a Sports drama (football) about a female head coach & B plot was a love interest. A reader said “there’s too much sports. You need to make the romance the major plot line” – another said “no one will like a female coach unless it’s the Blind Side. Make it more like that”❓
— KristyLeighLuss (@KristyLeighLuss) February 3, 2021
Being told I write about women too much
When someone said of my lead character ‘isn’t there a man who could do that?’
Having what women find attractive explained to me by a cishet man https://t.co/tPKaiGZTIc
— Jesse Stuart She/Her (@SisterQuill) February 3, 2021
I had an exec surprised to see that I was female after they’d read my script. He thought I was male because of the ‘dynamic and exciting way’ I had written the battle and action scenes. Sad thing is I took it as a compliment. pic.twitter.com/LjqxU8RciB
— Tracy (@TABwrite) February 2, 2021
The point of this post isn’t to dissuade myself, or you, from writing a screenplay or script. The point of this is to highlight the amazing talent that is out there pushing boundaries IN SPITE of the pushback they get from those who read their screenplays. They aren’t backing down and neither should I, neither should you. So, go and write that hella diverse story of your dreams! Go and write the story that women deserve to see on their screens! Do it and make Hollywood a better place, one screenplay at a time.
Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!
—The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]