Egyptian-American Actor Rami Malek Wins Best Actor
Last Sunday, history was made. The Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series landed in the hands of Egyptian American actor Rami Malek for his role as anti-hero protagonist Elliot Alderson in USA Network’s Mr Robot. He is the first non-white actor to win the award in 18 years.
In recent years, Hollywood has been catching a lot of flack for its insensitivity towards minorities and its disregard for their grievances. Just a couple of days ago, when asked if Hollywood is racist, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliff responded, saying, “It’s pretty undeniable.” So many instances of stereotyping occur on a regular basis in the world of entertainment. Gods of Egypt hit theatres last February looking to be a major box office hit, but there were two glaring issues with the film. One, the film was atrocious. Two, the “Egyptians” were not Egyptian, or Arab, or even Persian.
So often are white people casted into minority roles (i.e. Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell), killing opportunities of countless, deserving minority actors, and when minorities do get casted, the majority of their roles are typecast. A big deal was made of Vincent Rodriguez’s role as the Asian bro in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend because his character was basically the first of its kind and a Filipino-American was actually playing the part. This was a huge step towards progress but not remotely enough.
Last year, the Academy Awards was deeply under fire for its lack of diversity in its nominations. When “#OscarsSoWhite” went viral, it sparked awareness, pressuring the Academy to at least recognize the elephant in the room. The whole spectacle ended up revolving around the issues that the hashtag presented.
Chris Rock did a fantastic job hosting, burning Hollywood for its inequality, but even he shortsightedly treated the problem as more of a black and white issue than what it actually was: an all-shades issue. His Asian stereotyping joke discredited much of the things he had fought for earlier with his humor.
So, back to Mr. Malek, and his momentous win.
“Please tell me you’re seeing this too”: A joke playing into his character’s mental health in Mr Robot, and a statement that effectively raised viewers’ goose bumps. Realistically, this will not immediately change the course of history, but it is a huge step in the right direction for minority groups. Everybody won. Bravo Mr. Malek.
Photo credit: usanetwork.com