not enough people have heard this story, and it’s really important they do and i’m surprised it hasn’t spread, and it needs to. i only assume it’s because most of the people on here don’t watch neighbours. i know i don’t.
anyway, here we go.
this is how racist australia is: in 2011, the soap opera neighbours introduced an indian family, the kapoors, into the long running soap. up till then they’d pretty much always had all-white families.
not 12 months later, the producer that hired them left the show, and the were written out. according to actor sachin joab, who played the father of the family:
There’s been a lot of speculation over why the Kapoors have left the show. Did you all leave of your own accord, or were you written out?
"We were definitely written out and it wasn’t of our own accord. We were actually dumbfounded by the decision and we had no idea that it was coming.
"It was more of a shock to us knowing that it wasn’t just one multicultural actor who was being written out, it was every single multicultural full-time actor on the show - myself, Menik Gooneratne who played Priya, Coco-Jacinta Cherian who played Rani, and Alin Sumarwata who played Vanessa. All four of us were written out in the first year of our full-time contracts, which felt like a massive step backwards in terms of cultural diversity on the show
the interview is here, and i’d really encourage people to read it because it highlights a lot of problems within entertainment within australia. joab was told that the characters were being written out because they had no ideas for a storyline with them, and there was no money (both of which are bullshit, as the company behind neighbours had funneled A LOT of money into the show at the time, and joab’s character’s wife had died in a massive explosion’
not only that, but joab’s character was born and raised in australia, as was his daughter. when written out of the show, both characters ‘went back to india’, which of course, makes no fucking sense and is one of the most racist things i’ve heard in a very long time.
"Another issue was our characters being sent ‘back to India’. It made no sense to me for Ajay and Rani to be sent back to India considering that both characters were born, educated and raised in Australia. I encouraged the head of the writing department at Neighbours to send us elsewhere, but they chose not to. I suggested that the idea of visiting Ajay’s ill grandma could take place in Sydney, Adelaide or any other state in Australia, but the writing department still chose not to.
"Finally I said, what about if we visit my grandma in India and from there we leave for the UK, considering the majority of Neighbours fans are based in the UK. The writers agreed with that. So that’s how it ends for the Kapoors.”
this is a big deal to me because it matches up perfectly with my own experience in acting and performance in the australian industry - and my eventual choice to stop acting as a career. it’s nearly impossible to break in and incredibly disheartening when you see all-white casts constantly cast for productions both amateur and professional. it’s even harder to watch television when you know when you turn on the television you won’t see yourself, and if you do, it’s going to be some sort of racist caricature.
and it’s even harder when you’re told by white people who have no idea what it’s like to be a person of color in enteratinment that you must be wrong, and that you just must have not been good enough.
which, if you turn on australian television, sort of implies there are only 5 actors of color who ARE good enough, in contrast to the droves of white actors who are ‘good enough’
it’s embarrasing. there are plenty of chinese and indian families in australia. they’re everywhere. this is one of the three english speaking western countries in the world, and right now in terms of diversity in entertainment australia is right at the fucking bottom.
it’s painful, it’s embarrasing, it’s shameful, and frankly terrifying. i’ll leave you with joab’s words, which more or less summarize the situation and indicative of just how bad things are
What would you say is the current state of play when it comes to diversity on screen in general in Australia? Will it be difficult for you to find more work over there?
"It’ll be a lot more tricky to find work here in Australia than it would be in the UK or the US. The US have really incorporated a lot of different ethnicities into their shows - it really doesn’t matter what your skin colour is over there. It’s getting the same way in the UK, which has really caught up.
"For some reason, Australia is stuck in some sort of time capsule and usually when you do see non-white characters on screen, it’s only in non-fiction when it’s needed for factual reasons. For some reason when it’s fiction over here, the industry chooses to exclude non-whites and include whites only.
"It’s very unrealistic given that Australia is a very multicultural country. The two main places where the shows are made, Melbourne and Sydney, are two of the most multicultural but that really isn’t reflected on screen."