The Los Angeles Times has some explaining to do after a cover story about empowering actresses included only white women, bitter Twitter users complained.
The cover story of The Envelope section, which examines the awards season, is titled “A Shift in Focus: Actresses Call for a Change in the Way Many Stories Are Told.”
The roundtable discussion of “top actresses,” each one of them white — was about working in Hollywood and the treatment of women on screen. Posing on the cover of the Thursday section was Jessica Chastain (“Mollie’s Game”), Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”), Diane Kruger (“In the Fade”), Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”), Annette Bening (“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”) and Kate Winslet (“Wonder Wheel”). All but Kruger are considered to be in the running for lead actress Oscar nominations for 2018. Except for Chastain, all are blond.
Fordham English professor Scott Poulson-Bryant suggested that the Times look up the word “irony.” He quipped that Chastain, with her red hair, must have been the “diversity offering.”
There are lots of other “top actresses” the newspaper could have included. Even If the Times was just focusing on award contenders, there were several options. Chilean transgender actress Daniela Vega (“A Fantastic Woman”) and Salma Hayek (“Beatriz at Dinner”) are also both considered contenders for lead actress Oscar nominations. And supporting actress contenders include Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”), Hong Chau (“Downsizing”), Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”) and Tiffany Haddish (“Girls Trip”), all of whom could have added some color contrast.
But Twitter users weren’t upset just with the newspaper; they were especially upset with the women who posed for the cover shoot for not speaking up.
Writer and WNYC radio producer Rebecca Carroll called out Chastain, who has spoken up for the rights of minority women. “Honestly @jes_chastain as an outspoken voice for equality how do you pose for a photo like this and not feel absolutely mortified by the blatant exclusion?”
Carroll called the purported “shift in focus” touted by the Times actually the “antithesis of a shift in focus — this is literally The Same Focus on White Women in Hollywood.” She also scoffed at calling this group of actresses the “agent for change,” when it was black women who defeated Roy Moore in the Alabama special Senate election.
Chastain hasn’t responded to Carroll’s criticism. Ironically, one of the actress’s recent tweets refers to a New York Times story on “forgotten” women, many of them minorities, who continue to be sexually harassed at Ford Motor plants.