Why Representation Is Such A Big Deal
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Why Representation Is Such A Big Deal

Why representation should definitely matter to you.

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Why Representation Is Such A Big Deal
Mic

"Well, when I was nine years old, "Star Trek" came on. I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, 'Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick. There's a black lady on television, and she ain't no maid!' I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be." - Whoopi Goldberg talking about Nichelle Nichols.

Whenever you watch a movie, you can watch even your craziest dreams come to life. Whether it’s a movie about traveling back in time, falling in love, or going on a crazy adventure, the cast chosen for the movie is a huge deal to the audience. When you’re a child, it’s such a brilliant concept when you get to see someone who looks kind of like you exceeding and destroying daily stereotypes.

The reason why representation is such a big deal is because of situations like Whoopi Goldberg’s. She was really young and she knew that each time there was a black woman on the television, there was a huge chance that she would be portrayed as a maid. When Goldberg saw Nichelle Nichols playing Uhura in "Star Trek," she was overjoyed by the fact that a woman of color was able to beat all the odds and play a different character than what people of color are used to. In today’s television, there are still a lot of micro aggressions that get put onto the air and are televised.

For example, Guadalupe “Lupe” Ontiveros, an American actress, played the role of a maid 150 times. Once when she came to an audition, she was told that if she spoke perfect English that she would be denied the part. Can you imagine that? They wanted to make sure that she was fit to play their stereotype so they could continue with their perspective of what they imagined Latina actresses to be. She wanted to break the stereotype because she felt like she played the same role over and over again and thought it was ridiculous that she was stuck in that loop because Hollywood couldn’t imagine that she could play anything else besides a maid.

This happens with gender as well. I remember seeing a video of a man doing ballet awhile back, and I remember thinking how cool it must be for the people who never gave ballet a shot because they were afraid they wouldn’t be portrayed as manly if they did. I’ve seen women be inspired by movies where the head scientist was a woman. Whatever your gender is, it’s really cool getting to see someone lead the way of breaking the barriers that made you feel like you couldn’t do something.

Whatever your ethnicity, skin color, or gender is, it is extremely upsetting when you are immediately generalized and stereotyped. It is really important when people use movies to inspire others to become more than what they thought they could ever be. I've heard stories of little girls inspired by Rey, a character from the newest Star Wars movie. I've seen young black boys excited to dress up like Finn. That's so important that people get to have role models to look up to and to have for encouragement.

If you want to become a scientist, a librarian, a stay at home mom or dad, a pilot, or a cook, you should do it and when you do, make sure you give it your all. Even if no one has done what you want to do yet; become the first. Don’t let anyone hold you back, not even yourself. Who knows? Maybe you’ll become someone else’s inspiration.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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