In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Steve Harvey talked to the magazine about his success as a man in Hollywood wearing many hats, from radio host, to game show host, talk show host, stand-up comedian and author. And while saying that he’s been thriving very well in Hollywood would be an understatement, Harvey says that Hollywood still isn’t necessarily as friendly to people of color as you’d think, even with a black president and black folks in high places in the media (a la, Oprah). That’s why television has changed for the negative.
“Hollywood is still very racist. Hollywood is more racist than America is. They put things on TV that they think the masses will like. Well, the masses have changed. The election of President Obama should prove that. And television should look entirely different. [Scandal star] Kerry Washington should not be the first African-American female to head up a drama series in 40 years. In 40 years! That’s crazy.”
Harvey learned this years ago, claiming, in the interview, that an executive at the WB where his show, The Steve Harvey Show aired, told him that while they might invest in black shows because they guarantee views from black audiences, once networks gain more success, they dump the black television programs so that they can make way for viewers who make more money and are more “mainstream.” He says, “…as they build the network and get more eyeballs, they slowly start phasing them out.”
But Harvey himself admits that with all his recent endeavors, including his books and his talk show, he’s not necessarily trying to target just the black audience, hence his often very white audience. He’s trying to reach out and have an opportunity to reach people of all backgrounds.
“I never mention color in my books. My show is not an African-American show. I’m not beating people over the head; I’m black, we black! And that’s how I look at it. I’m not going to let them put me in a box and pigeonhole me.”
A very interesting part of the interview came when Harvey also touched on the fact that he says he’s come so far, and been given so many opportunities because of God. But he’s noticed that a lot of the media can be very negative when it comes to religion:
“I don’t think that they care for that to be your explanation. When they ask me, ‘Steve, how do you explain your success?’ And I tell them that it’s prayer. It’s like, ‘Well, I mean really, who’s your agent, who’s your manager?’ I don’t think it’s cool for people to say, ‘You shouldn’t reference God because I don’t believe that, and I don’t want to hear it.’ Well, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t believe that I still gotta hear. I don’t believe in the K. K. K., but they exist. I don’t care for the Confederate flag at all. But they’re on state buildings down South.”
Very interesting points from Harvey, and in a way, I think we all knew that Hollywood has its way of working with black people in only certain capacities. But hopefully things are starting to change, as there are more black faces in positive roles on television nowadays (not JUST reality TV). But Harvey knows what he’s talking about since he’s got like twenty-something years on us…