Generation Mix: Youth TV Takes the Lead in Diversity Casting

Craig Sjodi/Disney Channel
Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams in “The Cheetah Girls One World.”

By Edward Wyatt
The New York Times
Published: August 20, 2008

LOS ANGELES — The red-carpet area at the premiere of the Disney Channel’s new Cheetah Girls movie last week looked less like the typical Hollywood cast party than some sort of United Nation's session.

Adrienne Bailon, who plays Chanel in the trio of Cheetah Girls, drew on her Ecuadorean and Puerto Rican roots and chatted in Spanish with a television interviewer. Meanwhile Kiely Williams, an African-American actress who plays Aqua, and Sabrina Bryan, who plays Dorinda and whose real name is Reba Sabrina Hinojos, answered questions and waved to fans.

Deepti Daryanani, an actress from Calcutta, and Rupak Ginn, an American actor whose parents emigrated from India, wore outfits inspired by their roles in the television movie, “The Cheetah Girls One World,” in which the group travels to India to star in a film after one of its members misunderstands an invitation to Bollywood as one to Hollywood.

Other Disney stars in attendance included Brenda Song, the daughter of a Laotian Hmong immigrant father and a Thai-American mother, who starred in the Disney Channel movie “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior”; Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, a daughter of Filipino and Spanish parents, and her “Camp Rock” co-star Roshon Fegan, who is part Filipino; and Shanica Knowles, an African-American actress who plays a high school rival of Miley Cyrus' character on “Hannah Montana.”
“This group of people is reflective of the life we all live right now,” said Debra Martin Chase, an executive producer of “The Cheetah Girls One World,” which will be shown Friday on the Disney Channel.

“One-third of the U.S. population is now nonwhite,” said Ms. Chase, one of a handful of prominent African-American producers in Hollywood. “That is reflected in the Disney Channel projects because they are committed to diversity. It has been a priority for them all along.”

None of which should be particularly surprising in the 21st century, except that television in general seems to be caught in one of a series of repeating cycles in which diversity all but disappears from the small screen.

Consider, as a contrast, what the red carpet will look like at next month’s Primetime Emmy awards ceremony. Of the 26 men nominated for Emmys for lead or supporting actor in a drama, comedy or mini-series, all are white, most of Anglo-Saxon descent.
full article at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/21/ar...se&oref=slogin