Pakistani Movie Star Complains: Hollywood Only Wants White Villains

Streams of actors would surely love to play a hero, but a villain offers a ton of teeth-sinking fun.

However, some stars will have to wait to take a bite — due to a sort of pigment-based bigotry.


In a recent interview with Esquire UK, Pakistani-American actor Kumail Ali Nanjiani explains Tinseltown’s racial politics.

You may know Kumail from his work on Silicon Valley, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, or Marvel’s Eternals. In 2017, he received a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for romantic comedy hit The Big Sick.

Time pegged him as one of its 2018 100 Most Influential People in the World.

But even with all that clout, some things are hard to make happen.

Kumail is currently starring in the Hulu limited series Welcome to Chippendales, as — to put it lightly — a man not solely known for his upright deeds. But Kumail thinks the opportunity comes courtesy of a peculiarity.

From Esquire:

[I]f Welcome to Chippendales were not based on a true story, [Kumail] believes that the central role (of Somen “Steve” Banerjee) would have gone to a white actor.


“I think that Hollywood now — even though they’re trying to be more diverse — is still weird,” the actor says. The problem, [Kumail] wagers, is that good intentions can sometimes lead to misguided solutions: If the bad guy is a brown guy, what message is that sending? “And that’s just as limiting as anything else.”


He calls to a Marvel colleague: Pale pretender Sebastian Stan (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) can play a superhero, then turn around and be a cannibal in horror flick Fresh.

For Kumail, it’s not the same:

“I was told that’s going to be hard because people don’t want to cast nonwhite people as bad guys.”

And that’s a shame:

“I want to play more bad guys.”

Given Hollywood’s propensity for social messaging, it’s not difficult to believe Kumail is right. After all, in this season of America, white people are being taking to task for their turpitude:

‘Antiracist’ Mental Health Association Fights the Empathy-Strangling ‘Ghost’ of Whiteness

Mental Health Journal’s Article on ‘Parasitic Whiteness’ Laments There’s ‘Not Yet a Permanent Cure’

University Tells White Students to Stop Exhausting Everyone Else

The Bushes’ Alma Mater Teaches Kindergarteners ‘Whites Make It Harder for Black People’

Home Depot Tells Its Staff They’re White-Privileged Oppressors and Marginalized Victims

Harvard Funds No-Whites-Allowed Music Album Following Black Students’ ‘Excruciating’ Year

Institutions appear interested in casting Caucasians as criminal; why would entertainment be any different? Yet, typecasting is an actor’s nightmare; Kumail’s been caught by it:

After The Big Sick, he received many more opportunities, though they were all in the same realm of a “nerdy, weak guy, defined by his lack of agency or power.”


Eternals changed that:

[P]eople saw [Kumail] as a more confident, powerful being. He was offered action films after that.

And now, thanks to Welcome to Chippendales, he has the chance to show his sinister side.

He should milk it for all its worth. Perhaps ironically, as a nonwhite actor aching to step into villainous shoes, he may otherwise be kept from roles he wants in the name of justice for “people of color.”



See more content from me:

Sign of the Times: Church Elder Gets Banned From Student Union for Calling Transgender Student ‘Male’

Astrophysicist Warns Against ‘Exceptionalism’ — It’s White Supremacy

Harvard Trains Medical Students to Treat Transgender ‘Infants’

Find all my RedState work here.

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