Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Othello airs on the CBC on June 15…interesting casting though

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 5, 2008

Carlo Rota, who plays Lebanese-Canadian Yassir on Little Mosque on the Prairie will be playing Othello in the upcoming movie on the CBC. The thing is, Carlo isn’t Lebanese, but Italian. The rest of the cast is also white. Is this weird? Lately, they tend to cast black actors as Othello, unless you’re going a la Patrick Stewart, with a white Othello and a primarily black cast. I have heard the argument that since Othello is a “Moor” from northern Africa, he’s going to look more Arabic anyway. And since Carlo is darker, it would work. Should they have casted a black actor? My high school did Othello a few years ago, and used a South Asian actor in the title role.  Personally, I think Othello should “contrast” from the rest.  He’s supposed to be “different.”  An actor of Italian descent isn’t “different” enough.

Note that black face isn’t used in this production.

The movie is directed by Zaib Shaikh (Amaar on Little Mosque). He may be a better Othello, but he’s too young. Maybe we’ll see him in Stratford in 15 years?


5 Responses to “Othello airs on the CBC on June 15…interesting casting though”

  1. Renee said

    Othello should be played by a black actor period. I am tired of the media using “stand ins” for people of color as though anyone who is technically brown will do. They have Hispanics playing natives and natives playing Hispanics. They are two very different groups and cannot represent each other. As POC we have our unique voices and each one is entitled not only to be heard but to be respected.

  2. Renee, what about a situation like my high school’s production? I went to a private school where there’s like one or two black students per grade, if at all. And if these kids don’t act, you’re not going to have any audition, period.

  3. Renee said

    In a case where it is a small production like a high school I could make an exception. My comment was in reference to big budget media productions. Major play, movies or TV should be able to find the representative actors even if they have to give a “new” actor a chance. I think that this approach would increase minority representation as well. Think about invisible Asians are on prime time TV. Perhaps if there was more a of a demand there would be more representation.

  4. Richard said

    The original OTHELLO in Shakespeare’s day was not black or Arabic

  5. And Richard, the original Desdemona was probably a 12 year old boy.

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