This Brilliant Parody of Lorde's 'Royals' Calls Out Racist Typecasting in Hollywood

Actor Tess Paras questions why 'leading ladies are quirky hipsters wearing vintage dresses.'
Mar 26, 2014·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

If you come to Hollywood and you want to be an actor, but you're a person of color, get ready to be typecast. If you're Asian, you're cast as the nerdy friend or the sexy temptress. If you're black, you're the sassy homegirlcomplete with finger snaps and rolling necks—from around the way.

To expose the limited, stereotypical roles she and other actors of color are offered, Los Angeles–based actor Tess Paras wrote this brilliant spoof of Lorde's hit song "Royals." Paras, who is Asian American, teamed up with two of her fellow African American actors, Haneefah Wood and Ayana Hampton, on the vocals and the video.

Women as a whole are grossly underrepresented in leading roles in films. When you go behind the camera, the lack of gender diversity is also evident. At both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards this year, no women were nominated in the directing categories.

The parody's lyrics point out that in Hollywood, when a leading role does go to a woman, casting directors favor the Zooey Deschanels of the world"tiny pouty pixies" who are white. Of the 500 highest-grossing films of all time, only one, Sister Act, featured a woman of color (Whoopi Goldberg) in the lead role. That was in 1992.

The song's chorus points out why actors of color put up with the lack of diversity: "And we're gonna be typecast...everyone starts somewhere." If they don't play along with Hollywood's stereotyping and racial microaggressions, they're not going to work.