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Shonda Rhimes Blasts Deadline Diversity Article as ‘Ignorant,’ Twitter Outraged

Article on pilot season says that too many white roles are being changed for actors of color. Twitter says: WTF?

Television powerhouse producer Shonda Rhimes blasted an article posted on Deadline Tuesday, saying television casting has become too ethnically diverse this season, calling the piece by Nellie Andreeva “ignorant.”

“1st Reaction:: HELL NO. Lemme take off my earrings, somebody hold my purse! 2nd Reaction: Article is so ignorant I can’t even be bothered,” tweeted Rhimes, creator of “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away With Murder.”

The article, which went up Tuesday evening, quickly drew a wave of criticism and caused Deadline to trend on Twitter for several hours, for suggesting that after years of too-few roles for actors of color in Hollywood, “the pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction.” It stated:

Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal. Many pilot characters this year were listed as open to all ethnicities, but when reps would call to inquire about an actor submission, they frequently have been told that only non-Caucasian actors would be considered. “Basically 50% of the roles in a pilot have to be ethnic, and the mandate goes all the way down to guest parts,” one talent representative said.

The article also noted:

While they are among the most voracious and loyal TV viewers, African-Americans still represent only 13% of the U.S. population. They were grossly underserved, but now, with shows as Empire, Black-ish, Scandal and HTGAWM on broadcast, Tyler Perry’s fare on OWN and Mara Brock Akil’s series on BET, they have scripted choices, so the growth in that fraction of the TV audience might have reached its peak.

Ava DuVernay, the African-American director of “Selma,” RT’ed Rhimes’ remark, as did more than 600 people, who found absurd the notion that Hollywood was now overcompensating by becoming too diverse.

Numerous television industry journalists commented negatively on the piece, including The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum, who called it “the grossest possible reaction to a breakthrough TV year.” Dave Itzkoff, who frequently writes for The New York Times, tweeted: “Just astounding that something so tone deaf could be published in 2015 by a supposedly credible news source.” Meanwhile The Huffington Post tv critic Mo Ryan wrote: “Horrible Deadline article, you’ve left me no choice. I must go FULL FACEPALM, from ALL of Star Trek! Happy now??! ”

Nellie Andreeva did not immediately respond to TheWrap‘s request for comment.

Below is a sampling of Twitter reaction.


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