It’s Nothing Personal Paula, But I Don’t Want You Playing Black
by Selam Aster
As much as we complain about Black actors being relegated to the sideline roles in major feature films, it’s interesting to see just how Black filmmakers do the same thing in their own films. Exhibit A: Jumping The Broom, directed by Salim Akil and produced by Tracey E. Edmonds, Elizabeth Hunter, T.D. Jakes, Glendon Palmer, and Curtis Wallace.
I know I’m late to the game but I recently watched this film about the family of a rich woman (Paula Patton) meeting her middle class fiance (Laz Alonso) and his family just days before their wedding. It’s a cliche setup for sure but what stuck with me after watching the movie was not the lack of a fresh comedic formula but the casting of Patton in the lead role.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a personal attack on Patton. I’m sure she’s a lovely person who works hard for her roles. But let’s call it what it is. Jumping The Broom mirrored the same formula of so many Holllywood feature films in which white actors populate the lead roles and Black actors are thrown in to add flavor, jokes, comedic relief, from their minor roles. In this case, the side actors were the rest of the cast including the always-delightful Loretta Devine and the hilarious Mike Epps.
I’m not saying Patton is white, but she played that character like a straight up white girl. In fact, she could’ve easily been replaced by Tara Reid and no-one would probably have noticed if they just closed their eyes. Just because you’re playing well-to-do doesn’t mean you’re devoid of all of the natural sass and rhythmic intonations of a Black person.