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Racism and racial representation on soaps

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2 hours ago, janea4old said:

 

I get so tired of hearing comments that women are exhausting, hysterical, unhinged, cray ... because they speak up.

I don't know Rowell personally, but from her many social media media posts, I get the sense that she's both a tireless campaigner for social justice who's done important work calling out institutional racism in the soap industry AND a relentless egomaniac. I mean, her posts contain more "I"s than a Roman arithmetic textbook. 

 

I think that's probably true of a lot of the divas we enjoy watching at a safe distance. If we had to regularly interact with them closely in person, it would be exhausting, because the diva would suck up all the oxygen in the room, leaving none for us. 

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2 hours ago, Days22 said:

8 posts and youre already exhausting tbh

 

Block and ignore like all the others when they give themselves away.

 

On a side note, @Errol @Toups : The previous known and proven sockpuppet accounts for a notorious troll need to be banned, period. Not allowed to return to posting every few months for a few days. I'm talking ones that have been around for the last year or more and share the penchant for identical grotesque photoshopped avatars. You know who they are, so Ban. Them.

Edited by Vee

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1 hour ago, Aback said:


Spoilergirl1. It’s locked though. 

shes a fake, I belive her real account was exposed on twitter, and  i wish someone their would have the brains to ask VR back though

 

Edited by Dylan

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Saw this on Twitter. Is it from here? Either way the fact that every show had access to this information and still had the pisspoor representation they had on their shows is completely inexcusable 

 

 

 

This should surprise nobody but Ronn Moss is a hardcore Trumper

 

 

Edited by Vizion

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@Vizion This is well known in the soap world, they just no longer care. I had mentioned earlier in this thread how a CBS report had leaked when Shemar left showing that the show lost 1-2 million viewers based on his exit. Once they realized that they introduced lots of new black characters and brought back Dru and Lily. Of course when they did this they also gave them story. 
 

Things like this Is why I support VR so much and get so frustrated. It’s not just us liking these characters, these characters are HUGELY popular and this audience has been so loyal they deserve better. 
 

Mishael Morgan was the first black actress they struck gold with since VR left. The chemistry with Bryton was first class, but they still let her go. That’s insane considering the popularity. I also maintain Loren Lott was on her way to that level of success had they given her a chance. 
 

Soaps are dying and they’d rather die than simply give their audience, which is largely black, representation. That is insane. 

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Loren Lott is so charming and gorgeous that I have to believe that in a few years, she will have the kind of career that Tika Sumpter and/or Renée Elise Goldsberry currently have.

5 minutes ago, Chris B said:

Mishael Morgan was the first black actress they struck gold with since VR left. The chemistry with Bryton was first class, but they still let her go. That’s insane considering the popularity. I also maintain Loren Lott was on her way to that level of success had they given her a chance. 
 

Soaps are dying and they’d rather die than simply give their audience, which is largely black, representation. That is insane. 

 

 

This was one of the reasons, I admit, I'd hoped that Morgan wouldn't return to daytime soaps.  I knew that it was more likely she'd be wasted just to prove some odd point. 

 

It should be clear to most folks who open their eyes long enough, that Y&R does not want a black actor/actress leading the show in storyline.  The way TPTB ensure that this does not happen is to undercut their Black talent.  This is the only explanation for why on earth they'd bring back the actress but not the character that she made so distinctive and interesting and replace Hillary with the dullard Amanda character.

 

Another case and point: Y&R had Darnell Williams and Debbie Morgan, two iconic Black soap actors--did absolutely nothing with them.  TPTB known damn well that they could have had a blockbuster storyline if they had brought back VR as an amnesiac and "Sarge's" common law wife. That story writes itself! Yet, they didn't want to, in order to prove some odd point.  (There is also the possibility that maybe their writers are just hacks).

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59 minutes ago, Vizion said:

This should surprise nobody but Ronn Moss is a hardcore Trumper

 

 

Not really surprised, but I would have thought that Moss was one of those dumb people who are apathetic about politics. But then again Trump has drawn in a lot of apathetic types.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Vizion said:

Saw this on Twitter. Is it from here? Either way the fact that every show had access to this information and still had the pisspoor representation they had on their shows is completely inexcusable 

 

 

 

Ha!  I posted that photo. Glad to see it making the rounds. 

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3 hours ago, Vizion said:

This should surprise nobody but Ronn Moss is a hardcore Trumper

 

 


I had no clue - and I have no words. 

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1 hour ago, ChitHappens said:

 

It's hard to believe people thought Days, who's possibly done THE biggest disservice to black character/actors, would fire Missy for liking a tweet.  Sigh...

Although, I do wonder about the whole "if there's smoke there's fire." I wonder if it was in discussion by TPTB.  It's been hard for me to watch MR or support the character of Jennifer since the whole Chick-Fil-A mess.

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We've talked a lot about racism and representation with characters and actors, I'd like to share my experience as a black guy who interned and tried to work in daytime. My memories are below. You can ask me anything and I'll try to answer it. I have long left daytime behind and with everything going on now, some memories have re-surfaced and I hope by writing this it excises them once and for all. -MikeLyons

 

 

I have long hesitated as to whether or not I should share my story about working on daytime soaps, but with the conversations being had about racism in Soap Land, I felt it may be helpful…or encourage someone else to speak about their experiences. This is an experience I do not speak about often; only a few extremely close friends and my parents are aware of my experiences as a black man in daytime soaps. 

 

I grew up on soaps as did my parents and grandparents. Some of my earliest memories are re-enacting Natalie and Janet’s well scenes from All My Children. We had a family voicemail system growing up and my recorded message featured “Nadia’s Theme”. Yeah. I was that guy. I didn’t grow up in a world of overt or micro-racism. I grew up in a very wealthy college town sandwiched between two well-known universities and surrounded by other wealthy towns and counties. My peers and classmates were of every race, creed, religion, whatever. One of my classmates’ mother was a VP at MTV; the father of my sister’s friend was a diplomat with the United Nations. We only cared about a few things: Being kids, going to the mall, chatting on the phone, and dreaming of the future.

 

During college, I landed an internship on a daytime soap opera. (Note: For very personal reasons, I will not divulge the name of the soap or the folks who I encountered. Aliases will be used going forward).  I was in heaven because I didn’t think I’d get it. At the time, I was living in London and only submitted my resume as a lark. After a phone interview, they offered me a position as a production intern on their soap. (Note: There is a member of this forum who I met on this soap! This isn’t a fable.) On my first day, I met the internship coordinator, who was quite surprised to see that I was not the white guy my name and voice would have led them to believe. 

 

Nope. Sorry. 

 

I spent the summer in the US learning daytime drama from the ground up. One of our tasks as interns was to write a synopsis for every script which was placed in the front of the production script so people could scan the synopsis to get the feel for an episode. I relished this task since I wanted to become a soap opera writer. To ensure they were “right”, I labored over my synopses until I felt they hit the mark. Over the course of the summer, I became known for my synopses. One of the producers told me in the booth, “We love your synopses the best!” That was the single best piece of validation a production intern could receive. All in all, my experience on that soap opera was great. At the time, I didn’t really notice that the black people who worked on the stage of this soap opera were employees of the network which owned the studio and leased it, along with its studio staff, to the soap. They were not employees of the soap opera’s owner. Upstairs in the office, the interns were the most diverse group of people and we were unpaid labor. Outside of us, there were two non-white production office employees. All of the writers were white. Same for the directors. And producers. And network executives. At the time, I didn’t notice because I was having the time of my life and I didn’t grow up concerned about race. Had I paid attention, it would have prepared me for my move to another daytime soap opera and one of the most degrading moments of my life.

 

Through a strong connection I made on the first soap opera, I became quite friendly with two very respected people on my second daytime soap opera. We’ll call this show Promises. I didn’t really like Promises as a viewer, but it was a chance to continue building my daytime resume. Around March, Peter (not this real name) told me that they were beginning to look for interns, to send him my resume, and he would vouch for me as would Nancy (not her real name). Besides, he reasoned, if the first soap opera was so pleased with my work, especially on script synopses, that would make me a shoe-in. I’d need to do a phone interview and that was it. Well, the internship coordinator took an instant disliking to me from the get-go. We’d met before and she seemed nice enough, but when it came time to build her team, she was prickly, cool, and aloof. She insisted I go to the city where Promises was shot for an interview. I told her that I was in Hong Kong for the next two weeks, but I’d be happy to do it over the phone. Nancy and Peter lobbied for me to the coordinator, we did the phone interview, and I got the gig. 

 

My first day on Promises was fine enough, but, on that show, I quickly realized I was the only black intern there (thankfully not the only gay person), save for the daughter of one of the studio’s employees who was non-white, and one non-white person on the production team. I didn’t let this bother me because I was focused on the end goal. However, that gleeful ignorance quickly worked against me. 

 

Every soap opera director receives lighting plots which are blueprints of every set with all of the props, furniture, etc. laid out on it. This helps the director plot movement with the talent, tell the lighting department how to light a scene, informs wardrobe, etc. One day, the internship coordinator (who never warmed to me, no matter how many expensive cupcakes I brought in), asked me to make copies of the lighting plots from Sam, the director currently directing in the booth, distribute them, and return them to Sam. I followed the distribution list to the letter, ensured everyone had a copy, and went to the booth. Sam was in the middle of directing a scene. You are NEVER to disturb a director when they’re directing, not even if their hair is on fire. So, I placed the lighting plots to Sam’s left and left the studio. Well, about ten minutes later, a call comes into the production office and the internship coordinator takes unbridled glee in informing that Sam wants to see me in the booth. Okay… I make my way to the booth where Sam proceeds to tear into me for a good five minutes about how I never returned the lighting plots, what was I doing, and the like. Sam did this in front of the supervising producer, production assistant, technical director, and lighting director. I stood there and kept my cool. When Sam finished said tirade, I calmly pointed to the lighting plots still to Sam’s left and said that I’d left them there because I thought they’d be seen after the scene had ended. Once Sam saw them, Sam (with more venom I’d ever experienced) dismissed me and that was that. The pure ire in that booth was palpable. No one had ever spoken to me like that before or since. I was in my very early twenties, was going to university in London, traveling the world, and had recently attended an event in the presence of royalty. So, maybe it was ego, but I took a distinct disliking to Sam, which I felt was mutual. We never spoke again…and that incident in the booth would haunt me for years to come. 

 

After the run-in with Sam, the publicity office of Promises had a problem: Their publicity assistant had left and they needed someone to write synopses for a backlog of scripts. Unlike the synopses for the other soap, these would be distributed to all of the soap opera magazines and other outlets for publication. I didn’t know it, but Soap Opera Digest doesn’t write the synopses at the back of the magazine; those are provided by each show. Nancy and Peter were the ones who put me forward to go to Publicity to help them catch-up based on my previous work on the other soap opera. I went to Publicity to get away from the hostile internship coordinator and to steer clear of that director. For the next three weeks or so, I read hundreds of scripts, wrote synopses, and helped with other publicity related tasks. I was thrilled a few weeks later to open one of the soap opera magazines to find my synopsis re-printed word for word. Publicity thanked me for my work and we always stayed on good terms. I went back to the production office where Peter and Nancy took me under their wing and out of the grasp of the internship coordinator. Peter and Nancy heard through the grapevine what Sam had done. They were apologetic, but nothing was ever done about it. To this day, Sam has never apologized. I really kept my head down for the remainder of the summer, never told anyone that story, and got on with university and my life.

 

After graduating from university, I moved back to the city where Promises was filmed. Peter and Nancy, my allies at Promises, were still employed there. At that time, I’d found employment as an assistant at a talent agency, which was good money with a lot of demanding actors, some of whom have become legitimate stars. I was accepted into one of the daytime writing programs, but the program was shut down a few weeks later as an omen to come for daytime. One day, Peter let me know that Promises was hiring for a publicity assistant because the last one hadn’t worked out. He told me to send him my resume, which he’d pass along. According to Peter, since I worked with Publicity and the people who ran the department really liked me, it was my job to lose. Guess how this story ends. I go into the first interview with Kelly, the person I’m going to work under. Kelly tells me about the job, that it does require travel, knowledge of the show, etc. Since Kelly and I knew each other we delved deep into how I could become an asset, grow in the role, and the like. Good start, right?

 

I was called in for a second interview which would involve the producers and Kelly. Peter’s only advice was not to tell them I wanted to write. They didn’t like that. Okay, fine. I walked into the second interview and my heart dropped. Sam was sitting across the table from me. I answered all of their questions, saw the excitement on Kelly’s face, and thought it could work since I wouldn’t work with Sam. I returned to my job at the agency that same day when I received a phone call from Kelly. The show decided to hire the other guy who had no soap opera experience, didn’t know Promises, and was greener than grass. Kelly and Peter had lobbied hard, but – for reasons I’m still murky on – they hired the white person who was fired six months later. I considered this a humiliating defeat, to say the least. I enrolled in graduate school in London, quit my job at the agency, and took two years to learn the business of business. 

 

During those two years, I developed a strong TV drama script which I’d submitted to a prestigious festival (by someone who was a big deal in UK soaps) and I was a Top 5 finalist. I submitted that script blind to RTE in Dublin on a whim. Two weeks later, a script editor called me about writing sample scenes for their top-rated television show, Fair City. I wrote a few scenes, submitted them, and they wanted to work with me to (eventually) become a writer on the soap. Unfortunately, RTE got into a fight with Ireland’s actors union about residuals, so the show was yanked offline for a few years. That ended that. 

 

I returned to the USA, moved to a new city, and wound up living around the corner from a very formidable soap opera writer from the first soap I’d worked on. We’d met a few times on the first soap opera, I stayed in touch, and I tried to see if I could submit the same script for consideration. Let’s just say that conversation was really uncomfortable and basically ended because they were “really busy”. 

 

I tried again with the head writer of Promises, but I was met with stony silence. This is the same head writer who made a writer out of the white male casting assistant (who only took the job because he wanted to be an actor) who had no prior writing experience and then made the same “writer” a producer on Promises. I was befuddled. I let it go and moved on with my life.

 

A few years later, I returned to the city where Promises is filmed. Peter told me that they were hiring for a receptionist position, which he knew I was overqualified for, but it would get me in the door. Two of the main qualifications for the job were: You had to have a college degree and you needed to know how to write since writing synopses were a big part of the job. Once again, I went into the interview with a clear mind and an edict not to tell them that I wanted to write. Upon entering the conference room, I saw Peter, the head writer, some producers, the new producer from the first soap I’d interned on (with whom I was friendly), and…Sam…sitting there smirking at me. I did what I could, but they wound up hiring the white child of someone on the production staff who hadn’t even graduated from college…and, according to Peter, this person couldn’t write to save their life. Needless to say, I was gutted, but life moves on and so did I. 

 

Maybe a year or so later, they were hiring for another position which Peter told me about. I expressed my reservations to Peter from the get-go. For some reason, he really wanted me on Promises even after two failed interviews. The third interview went the way of the other two. According to Peter, they hired the person with less experience, who didn’t know the show, and was a white person. After that experience, I told Peter in no uncertain terms to never tell me about another open position at Promises ever again. It took me a long time to come to terms with how soul crushing it was to have been championed and lobbied for by white people in power, but to be overridden so they can hire an underqualified white person who’s a better “cultural fit” and they end up firing in six months. If you’ve never felt that feeling of confusion and embarrassment, consider yourself lucky. 

 

Over the next few years, I tried to submit scripts to Promises, but they were never read or considered while they kept hiring inexperienced new writers. Undeterred, I continued to write for a spell. Some of my scripts were well received and nominated for awards. A few digital shows I’ve written and produced have been distributed around the world as well as being nominated and winning various awards. It took me a long time to realize it wasn’t me; it was the insidious racism at Promises. 

 

By the time of my second interview, the only non-white member of the production staff was gone. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been another non-white member of their production staff who wasn’t a part of their studio package.  

 

In all of daytime, only one non-white person has produced a soap opera: Albert Alarr. Michele Val Jean is the only black woman to solely head write a soap opera; the Ryan Quan is the only non-white man to come close to it (as he is Ron Carlavati’s co-head writer). Susan Dansby is one of the only black women (other than Val Jean) to write for a soap opera. When I interned on Promises, they didn’t have a single black character on their show unless they needed extras or had a prison scene. In retrospect, I was trying to become the first black man to write a daytime soap opera and even my white allies couldn’t secure a job for me on Promises with their collective clout and experience. The mountain, as I’ve experienced it, is impossible to breach when people decide to never let you have a foothold to take that first step.

 

If I could give the remaining four soap operas any advice it would be this: Enough with your passive aggressive behavior, shoddy hiring practices, and systematic racism. If everyone in your office looks like you, you are part of the problem. You cannot write for other voices and viewpoints when yours has been homogenized to the point of idiocy. It was taken me a long time to realize it, but I was only allowed into daytime on the first soap opera based on my resume – pure merit. Had they actually known I was black before they hired me, I may not be here to tell the tale. Once Promises was in a position to hire me (who was a known quantity to them), they rebelled at ever instance from my phone interview through my third and final interview. 

 

Life has been kind to me. I have my own company, have a great home, a wonderful partner, travel the world at my will, and report to no one but myself. Life has a way of working itself out. Daytime was a part of my college years, nothing more. Don’t worry; I have a very lovely life.

Edited by mikelyons

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