Queer Eye’s resident fashion expert Tan France has opened up about the lack of diversity in British TV.
In an interview with PA News Agency, the Netflix star revealed the difference of representation in the US versus the UK.
“America isn’t obviously where it needs to be as far as representing marginalized groups. But we’re light years ahead of the UK,” he said.
He went on to say that the UK entertainment industry pays “lip service” and “tokenism” when it comes to showcasing diversity and impactful social movements.
“I think so many networks said during the Black Lives Matter movement that, ‘We’re going to do better, we’re going to share more diverse stories,’ and it’s been a year and couple months, it doesn’t take that long to make a show. Where are they?” he said.
“Yes, there may have been a person who’s added into a primetime slot. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a version of tokenism, we don’t see enough.
“If you add one person, that’s not representation – that is tokenism. I think that the US does a much better job. And I’m not just saying this because I work for Netflix.”
France also said that Asian characters in UK media are often presented in a stereotypical context compared to US shows like Never Have I Ever – which follows an Indian-American family.
“In the UK, it is a fight for them to see me as a viable primetime entertainer,” he explained. “I don’t know if it’s because it’s a concern that they think that the audience won’t see me as an entertainer because they only ever see Asians in a few capacities.
“The taxi driver, the restaurant owner or the terrorist in the news, we are so much more than what we’re portrayed as in the media.”
Fortunately, France is ready to tackle the lack of diversity in his new role as international editor of the Edinburgh TV festival.
This isn’t the first time that the UK entertainment has been called out for their lack of diversity.
In a survey by Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, it was revealed that there was widespread racism within the British entertainment sphere.
Out of the 1,300 actors surveyed, over 50% of them had experienced racist behaviour on set.
The report also revealed that 71% said that makeup and hair departments were unable to “cater” to the hair, skin tone and heritage of non-white actors.
“This report finally brings into the open what many of us talk about, and suffer, in private,” Sir Lenny Henry told the BBC.
The acclaimed entertainer also touched on actors leaving the UK to find roles in the US due to casting restrictions.
“Every time we see a great actor like Thandiwe Newton, Idris Elba or David Harewood leave these shores to find opportunities denied to them in the UK, it is a painful reminder of why casting is so important,” he explained.