The whole issue of color-blind casting is an interesting one, the idea that any character should go to the best actor regardless of ethnicity or skin color. The idea has been around for some time, though rarely used on a large scale. For obvious reasons at times. Because in some situations, mixing up characters that are supposed to be related, for example, can cause the viewer to begin pondering things not intended for the story. And speaking as a director, that is not something you want to do in many situations, particularly with dramas.
Now there are situations where casting with no regard for skin color or ethnicity is absolutely the right thing to do, and I think a goal that should be pursued whenever possible. Situations where a character can be anything and it not affect the story line, and sometimes, situations where it is good to shake things up for the viewers or make a point. Like casting an Asian as a hero cop, when it may have been written for a White guy. Or like the Officer in An Officer And A Gentleman when Lou Gossett Jr. was cast though it was originally envisioned for a White character opposite Richard Gere. Then there are those history based situations that can be complicated, like in the show Merlin, which cast a Black woman, Angel Coulby, as Guinevere.
Casting opportunities like that open up doors and open up minds. I wish it happened more.
In a different kind of situation, Louis C.K. recently cast a Black woman as the mother of his very White-looking children on his new cable TV show “Louie.” The casting was a surprise and nothing was made of the difference in her ethnicity in the story line. Of course, there are those who did not like the casting. And though this is one of those casting decisions that causes a bit of a jolt in simply following the story line intended, I applaud Louis for having the guts to do it. He was on Jimmy Kimmel Live the other night and was asked about this atypical casting. C.K. said this:
If the character works for the show, I don’t care about the racial.
But now don’t think I don’t get that C.K. is a comic and comics enjoy shaking things up, so I know he knew that this decision would get attention for the show. And he knew it would get laughs. As on Kimmel even he thought a Black woman getting on his case played for more effect than a White woman. While that idea is stereotypical in itself, I think the biggest factor for the comedian was the attention he would get. But so what? That is the consideration for all shows and all casting on some level.
At the end of the day, his choice gave a Black actress a chance to work and at the same time it created another image of our changing, ethnically mixed world.
Those are good outcomes.