Antonio Cayonne | Actor

This Industry Sometimes... Friday July 10th 2015

Antonio CayonneComment

This blog was started to track my journey through Vancouver as an actor. Well, most of the time I'm not 'acting' per se. I'm living, which is like studying, because acting is the art form of life. When I do get to audition - and lately it has been less often, but it is just now starting to pick up for me again - I'm grateful, and I work it, so that I can go in and do my job to the best of my ability, and show my take on the material, and leave something that they might be interested in collaborating with. I do my job. 

But this industry sometimes....

Before I go here, I'm wondering if you've seen this Tublr. It's called Every Single Word, and it's a list of edited films that focus solely on the lines spoken by actors of colour within that film. If you haven't seen it yet, here it is. I think you know where this is going. I've left one of my FAVOURITES from the site up here for you to watch. Noah, a biblical film about Noah's Ark that presumably took place somewhere where there might have been many diverse characters. Press Play now. I'll wait. 

Right? Bullshit. Okay, we knew that already but I live the reality and it's pretty hurtful. 

Now I know the backlash, I hear it a lot. 'There are films with people of colour, there are tv shows, I can even name them...'

Cool. Cute. It's the defensive equivalent of saying you have a black friend. 

This article sums up how I feel about that. I didn't write it, it just showed up when I started writing. If you don't want to read it I'll leave this little excerpt. But read it. 

...But now more channels mean more opportunities for representation. Many shows are being developed on many platforms from many perspectives. It seems that people are tired of everyone looking the same on television. And this seems especially true for white people. Even white people are tired of watching the same white people. That’s why we’ve been importing them from Australia.

When it comes down to it, this is a handful of shows. Shows that can accurately be defined as “a few.” A few shows is not a craze. I see even fewer shows from a Latino perspective. I see fewer shows from an Asian perspective. And Asia is a GIANT continent. Japan is Asia, Saudi Arabia is Asia, and boy, is there a lot in between. So until I see 20 shows from each of these perspectives, perhaps people should back off on the hyperbole. Now excuse me while I prepare this audition. It’s for “Black Republican #2.
— Baron Vaughn

This industry sometimes....this industry. I went to an audition today for a major show - one I've never been out for, one I could see myself on, and one that I know is held in high regard. I read the sides and thought to myself, what are they looking for? Because the sides weren't really anything much. Now, again, I know, I hear it as a defence ALL the time, that I have to MAKE them something and there are no small roles, and everything counts. And if you say those things, and you believe them, then it's clear to me that you don't have to live this. 

Because what I thought when I read that scene was, this seems like the perfect opportunity to check off a box that makes the show 'diverse'. Because no one gives a shit about this character, it can't screw anything up for the narrative of the show, and it doesn't have any possible negative impact looming. I 'sensed' that, but hey, maybe it's me and this 'chip'. 

Brief Side Bar 
'Chip' by the way, as in chip on your shoulder, is what is said to make it seem as though you are wrong for thinking you see/feel something, and that it's simply you and your skewed perspective based on a misunderstood sense of your own oppression - which doesn't exist. Neither does privilege. (I'm being shitty here in case that gets missed, of course they exist).  
It's just the chip. It's the equivalent of calling women 'crazy' or worse when they stand up for themselves, or for anything really.

So I prepped the sides, made sure they were interesting given what was there, but played what I felt would feel right for the show. And I sat in the waiting room. I was first on the list to be seen. And as I waited, I watched the reality sink in. 

Black Black Black Brown Brown Asian Asian Asian....coooooool.
I bet they were all called in because they'd be the best fit for the part, as actors, because they wanted the best actors. I bet. Because this is how it works, right?

And sitting there, I couldn't help but be flooded by knowing too much about systematic racism, and knowing that just sitting there was allowing it to exist; was perpetuating it. Yet I also know how hard I work, how much I want to work, and what it means to me. 

So, this industry sometimes.

Stay put and sacrifice your integrity in hopes that one day you can be part of a bigger change. Stand up and leave, knowing you closed the door and they will interpret and frame it however they want.

Not exactly win win.