Mickey Rooney

200 years of authenticity (or lack thereof) in casting

200 years of authenticity (or lack thereof) in casting

American entertainment has a long, complicated history when it comes to authenticity in casting. Here’s a look at some of the milestones that have led to the modern conversation about who has the right to play which roles.

1830: Blackface

Blackface minstrel shows begin their ascent in popular culture. Touring song-and-dance jubilees perpetuate racial stereotypes using predominantly white performers wearing black greasepaint or shoe polish to darken their skin and exaggerate their lips.

Wm. H. West's Big Minstrel Jubilee, circa 1900 (Strobridge & Co. Lith.)1927: ‘The Jazz Singer’

Al Jolson stars in a major hit of the burgeoning “talkie” era in which he...

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