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OLTL's Inability to Incorporate Diversity Better

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  • OLTL's Inability to Incorporate Diversity Better

    The one major frustration for me was that OLTL hired awesome Black actors and then didn't seem to know what to do with them. I also feel that a lot of these characters were the first to fall victim to the revolving door of HWs who took a Hostile Takeover of a Corporation approach rather than seamlessly integrating themes from prior shows.

    One of my biggest gripes was the shoddy way Daphne Duplaix as Rachel was treated. She was my favorite Rachel. I liked Ellen Bethea, Mari Morrow was written as too weak, and Sandra Grant seemed too slutty. She was what I thought Hank and Nora's daughter would look like on paper. She looked like a blend between the two and I loved the way DD kind of mirrored HBS speech patterns, acting choices and mannerisms. Loved their too brief scenes together. I was particularly disappointed when the show didn't exploit the awesome chemistry between DD and Scott Clifton as Schuyler Joplin. The show as going to write out KISH anyway. I thought it would have been poignant if Oliver had been killed in the line of duty, preferring to let Schuyler and Rachel raise his daughter as their own. Would have also loved their "Delgado" Marriage of Convenience blossom into true love.

    My next big gripe was Evangeline Williamson. I thought Rene Elise Goldberry was very talented, but it seemed to me that the show was determined to write her as the Black Tea. I thought she should have been written more as OLTL's version of GH's Alexis or Santa Barbara's Julia. The show kind of poisoned me towards her out of the box by having her side with the obnoxious Antonio over RJ Gannon. I did like her pairing with ME's John Usually McBane of my Existence. The triangle with the very immature Natalie never made sense to me. I thought Natalie versus Layla Williamson over Cristian Vega would have rocked.

    My last big gripe was recycling RJ having a biracial daughter like brother Hank did. Here was a chance to introduce a Black female character as his old flame and use her to reconcile and tie the hostile Rauch takeover which saw Sadie written out and Carla backburnered to infinity and then disappeared to Agnes Nixon's original canon. I thought it would have been an interesting story if CARLA had been one of ASA BUCHANANs many wives and he divorced her for "adultery" when she gave birth an obviously Black baby girl.

    Timothy D Stickney reminded me a good deal of Rick Hearst in his acting choices and intensity and I believe that if Amelia Marshall had been cast as Keri Reynold's mother and then was further tied to the canvas as Asa Buchanan's daughter by Carla Grey Hall, I think the show could have kicked it up several notches.

    IMO, Shaun Evans and Vivian Wright should have married and adopted Destiny and Matthew's son. Both of them were too young to be good parents. I liked how solid that big ole teddy bear, Shaun was.

  • #2
    This is something that went on even before the Gannons and Evangeline. In 1985 the show hired a very good actor to play a bad boy named Bobby Blue. This was a character that had so much potential and was sort of paired with a very beautiful actress named Laura Carrington who played Lisa Baron. The two of them had major chemistry. That actor was Blair Underwood. There was a potential love triangle there with Bobby, Lisa and Josh Hall (son of Ed and Carla) but the show completely wasted them and by the end of 1986 all 3 characters were gone. Then a few years later we had Troy Nichols, his son Kerry and sisters Sheila and Rika Price. Again, these characters were terribly underused and Kerry and Rika were both victims of the LInda Gottlieb purge of 1991 where a dozen or so actors were cut from the show. Troy remained for a little while and of course Sheila was eventually recast and hung around until 1996 but was still not used to her full advantage. These were all very good actors with promising characters that unfortunately went nowhere.

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    • #3
      I honestly had to Google Daphne Duplaix as the name didn't ring a bell. I seem to vaguely remember her time as Rachel.

      The treatment Renée Elise Goldberry and Evangeline received was atrocious.

      But to be honest, the issue with diversity is an issue daytime wide. Maybe it's because TV in general has had an issue. But you would think a genre that has historically had a sizeable black audience would do a better job in trying to permanently reflect that in its product.

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      • #4
        I remember Bobby Blue. Blair Underwood was a short term character, but he stood out! Loved Al Freeman as Ed Hall and Lawrence Fishburn as Ed and Carla's adopted son, Joshua, rocked any scenes he was in. OLTL got the cream of the crop where Black actors were concerned. I wonder if Agnes Nixon hadn't lost all interest in OLTL when she got AMC if things would be any different since Carla Grey was her brainchild?

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        • #5
          I think there were not enough Blacks on the writing teams. Some of the best writing on GH back in the day was by Michele Val Jean. I believe she wrote an Emmy for the very realistic violent sexual assault and its aftermath on Elizabeth Weber and how it affected Lucky Spencer having to face down the weird dynamics of Luke and Laura, but what I really enjoyed was the way Marcus Taggart (Real Andrews) was written by her and I loved to laugh when his sister Gia got involved with Nicholas Cassadine and his malevolent witch of a grandmother, Helena Cassadine would be menacing her and she'd be on a rant about his crazy family. Anyway, I loved the chemistry between the actresses who played overbearing Helena and nonplussed Gia. Their dialogue was not only funny and snappy, but Gia's reaction was spot on like a normal person around a very weird person.

          I honestly think Hollywood is screwing up with endless virtue-signaling when it comes to Saluting Diversity. I hate it when, instead of simply hiring Black producers, tech workers, and writers, they tamper with canon and even European history to blacken a real historical figure .. the latest casualty Ann Boleyn ... rather than finding Black novelists and bringing their work on film, like the award-winning Color Purple. They could go further and actively pull Black history and African folklore.

          I liked Lion King, but I read this African fairy tale about this beautiful aristocrat who all the men in the territory wanted and her sister (who was not the family beauty). In any case, they find this young man badly beaten, with no memory and in rags. Of course, the beauty shuns him, but the sister befriends him and they become close until he is healed, remembers who he is and goes home. Later the important prince comes to the family to get a bride and everyone assumes it's the acclaimed beauty that he wants to marry, but its the kinder sister. It turned out that the prince was the homeless beggar with amnesia they had found. He had initially been interested in meeting the beauty (whose reputation was widely known) but he realized that real beauty in a woman is her intelligence, her spirit, and compassion.

          I thought it would have been awesome animated film and put the African girls on par with Belle, Cinderella or Snow White, but Disney had already got so much criticism over the way they did Aladdin, that they went with Lion King instead. Too bad they couldn't get Blacks in on the creative process who could have worked with the animators and the musical scoring, etc. I think they could have gotten away from Eurocentric themes and stretched a little. With the right team, anything is possible.

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          • #6
            I will say that I think one thing OLTL did better than other soaps was incorporating their black characters into the canvas and having them interact with the non-black actors. The Bobby character mentioned above had lots of scenes with Erika Slezak when I believe she was playing Niki Smith masquerading as Viki. Hank interacted with ex-wife Nora and best friend Bo, and Kevin dated their daughter Rachel for a time. Matthew and Destiny had their romance. Going way back to the beginning Sadie was the best friend of Anna Wolek. Other shows like Y&R always seemed to segregate their black actors and they mostly appeared in isolated stories. So that's the one thing OLTL did right. But I completely agree at all the wasted potential with many of the black actors and stories that were attempted and dropped too quickly.

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            • #7
              This is something that has been an issue with ALL soaps (even Generations) since they've been on the air, at least American soap operas. I think in ways the writers are so afraid of writing a character that is viewed as a (negative) stereotype. When watching soap characters that are supposed to represent 'diversity' I'm often reminded of a line in the Harrison Ford/Melanie Griffith film 'Working Girl' where he tells her he likes how she's dressed at a business cocktail mixer; that she isn't dressed like a woman who is dressing how she thinks a man would dress if he were a woman....(that's egregiously paraphrased)....but in my humble opinion they write every character, irrespective of skin color or heritage....as a 'white person'....with rare exception......they write any Asian, Black, East Indian, etc., character how all the white people act on the show. They talk the same, they dress the same, they eat at the same places.....that isn't diversity....

              Last year Bold and the Beautiful and Young and the Restless both added to their cast with black actors and actresses...Bold and the Beautiful had the opportunity to tell a story about racism in America (and other countries) by having one of their black characters experience the ugliness of racism and expose it in the way it's not as 'better' as some would like to think - they could have opened many minds, possibly, to the things that people do and say - even unwittingly and unknowingly, that perpetuate racism and racist images and stereotypes...instead they developed a few 'love triangle' stories out of it, which is just about all they do. So much for bringing black actors and actresses to the foreground and helping illustrate the issues that black people (and other people of color) face to this day in our 'white-centric' society.

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              • MemMem
                MemMem commented
                Editing a comment
                @llanviewlover:

                The one disappointment to me is that there was not a follow up story on Carla Grey. The writing was controversial, but she was outted as a Black woman who was passing PDQ. I suspect that is because Nixon had AMC pending and wrapped it up herself. The thing is that Carla wasn't a late adolescent or young twenty-something when the story opened with her. She was in the late 20's - early 30s age group. So, she had to be passing for years very successfully.

                I thought a back story where she had actually married a White and they had a Black baby born which ruined the marriage. Hubby divorces Carla for suspected adultery and Carla puts her up for adoption.

                Who would be the daddy - Methinks that Asa Buchanan would be the logical one.

              • OLTL'69
                OLTL'69 commented
                Editing a comment
                wWould this mean Asa had been in Llanview Long before his son Clint showed up to work at the Banner? I think Carla reconnecting with her family was one of the first stories I saw on OLTL I liked it

              • MemMem
                MemMem commented
                Editing a comment
                Carla came to town scheming to marry a White doctor by the name of Dr. James Craig, but she fell in love with a Black doctor instead. She was not a native of Llanview. Sadie was introduced over what everyone assumed was Carla's interracial kiss with the Black doctor. Asa came from Texas a few years later.

                I think Carla was passing as an Italian whose last name was Benari and then Sadie Grey (her biological mother) came to town. I evolved that Carla's father had been a very light-skinned African-American male who was often mistaken for White.

                So, again a story could be made for Asa (who remarried as often as most men change underwear) to meet a beautiful woman like Carla and marry her. Genetics are a quirky thing, so if they had a child who did NOT look White, it would never occur to Asa that Carla might be Black. He'd think she was an adulteress.

            • #8
              I think over all for the times OLTL did well. I was disappointed some when they made Rachel an addict. I also never understood how Natalie was a better match than Evangelne. That was one couple war I really cared about.

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