Gotham, FOX's new TV show, has come under criticism recently after information was brought forward about a white stuntwoman being painted black in order to stand in for African-American actress, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Deadline reported that dark makeup was applied to the face of a white stunt double so she could appear African American while standing in for Jada. Producers of the show, Warner Bros., after initially downplaying the incident, later stated that it was a "mistake" – and a black woman would be hired instead.
"A mistake was made this week in casting a stunt woman for a guest star in a particular scene on the show," a statement from WB said. "The situation has been rectified, and we regret the error."
Since the scandal broke, Smith's stunt double has shared more information about the situation.
According to Radar Online, Kelsee Devoreaux, a longtime double for Jada, who plays Fish Mooney on Gotham, stated that she was explicitly told that there was no stunt work for Pinkett Smith's character.
Devereaux's IMDB page shows that she stood in for Jada in Terminator Salvation, Hawthorne, The Matrix Reloaded, Lincoln Heights, The Haunted Mansion, and more. However, when she contacted Gotham's stunt coordinator earlier this year, she was told that Smith's character would not need any stunt doubles.
"This did happen and it will not and should not ever be tolerated, especially in today's age. This is 2014 and it is not acceptable," says Devereaux.
Although blackface went out in the 1930s, "painting down" white stunt performers so they can pass for African American has been going on for quite some time. Deadline reports that despite SAG-AFTRA calling the practice "unacceptable" and "improper," there is nothing in the union's contract that explicitly prohibits the act.
Stunt coordinators are only required by the union contract to "endeavor" to find stunt performers of the same gender and race as the actors they are doubling for.
The woman whose face was painted black by the stunt coordinator of Gotham was reportedly so freaked out and uncomfortable with the situation that she'd immediately contacted the Screen Actors Guild.
A spokesperson of SAG has since stated, "While this sort of thing doesn't happen very often anymore, still, in 2014 there are apparently people who don't seem to understand that there are qualified professionals ready to do this work and that, if you are foolish enough to engage in this offensive behavior, you will be called out for it. Performers and audiences alike won't stand for it – they'll speak out in ways like this and stand up by spurning the content itself in favor of on-screen experiences that are reflective of our collective stories and values."
In an update by Radar, it is not certain that it was Jada's stunt person who was painted darker on the set of Gotham – as a representative for Pinkett Smith stated that "Jada has never had a stunt woman on 'Gotham.' This is false and Jada is completely unaware of any of this ever happening."
Whether it was Smith's stunt double or another actor's, the bottom line still remains - such blatant disrespect of a community should not have occurred in the first place.
What are your thoughts on the "painting down" of stunt performers to look black?