In the recently released film New in Town, did you know Renée Zellweger was supposed to be Angela Bassett or Gabrielle Union? That is, Ms. Zellweger’s character was originally written for an African American actress. I honestly didn’t give much thought to the opening of this movie (and based on its weekend box office, neither did anyone else) until I read this piece in The Root, detailing how Kenneth Rance, the African American screenwriter of the movie, watched it go from a vehicle for a black actress, as he originally conceived it, to a vehicle for Ms. Zellweger. Rance’s experience is fascinating, if not a little sad.
Then today, I ran across this post from popular conservative blogger La Shawn Barber about the evolution of the movie and the sacrifices artists sometimes make to get their art out there. Ms. Barber has a personal connection to the story, and she poses a thought-provoking scenario for all of us to ponder:
Imagine yourself in [Kenneth] Rance’s situation. Someone wants to buy your work and make your movie, which no doubt will open doors and build your network of people in the business who can help get subsequent movies off the ground. But there’s a catch.
Is changing the race (sex, religion, nationality, etc.) of your main characters a small price to pay?
Great question. Well, what do you think?