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Chris Rock: Everyone in town was up for a part in True Detective, unless they were black

Chris Rock
Chris Rock
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Chris Rock is giving lots of interviews right now, because he has a movie to promote.He knows this. And he knows that the time people have in the spotlight is limited.

"Your time in front of the camera is finite. It's not definite. People interviewing you, it's all finite. You should definitely use it to better yourself," he told Grantland.

Rock is teaching by example. He's spoken eloquently about race, Ferguson, and President Obama.Today, he has a searing column in The Hollywood Reporter about racial inequality, the staggering lack of diversity in Hollywood, and how non-white actors, writers, comedians, don't get a "shot":

I still remember people thinking I was crazy for hiring Wanda Sykes on my old HBO show. I recommended J.B. Smoove for Saturday Night Live, and I just helped Leslie Jones get on that show. She's about as funny as a human being can be, but she didn't go to Second City, she doesn't do stand-up at The Cellar and she's not in with Judd Apatow, so how the hell was she ever going to get through unless somebody like me says to Lorne Michaels, "Hey, look at this person"? I saw her at a comedy club four or five years ago, and I wrote her name down in my phone. I probably called four managers — the biggest managers in comedy — to manage her, and all of them said no. They didn't get it. They didn't get it until Lorne said yes a few years later, and then it was too late.

Rock's references to Second City, The Cellar, and Apatow allude to the Bill Haders, Tina Feys, Amy Poehlers, and Seth Rogens of the industry, who all came out of those types of backgrounds, which tend to be the only places managers for shows like SNL find "funny" people. Rock points out that there are many talented actors of color who don't go to or don't have access to those routes.

Rock also has a sharp observation about how black women in movies are rarely seen or heard:

Or how about True Detective? I never heard anyone go, "Is it going to be Amy Adams or Gabrielle Union?" for that show. I didn't hear one black girl's name on those lists. Not one. Literally everyone in town was up for that part, unless you were black … And there are almost no black women in film. You can go to whole movies and not see one black woman. They'll throw a black guy a bone. OK, here's a black guy. But is there a single black woman in Interstellar? Or Gone Girl? Birdman? The Purge? Neighbors? I'm not sure there are. I don't remember them. I go to the movies almost every week, and I can go a month and not see a black woman having an actual speaking part in a movie. That's the truth.

Head on over to The Hollywood Reporter for Rock's full essay.

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