In partnership with

Lupita & Trevor Noah talk diversity over brunch

2016-02-29 14:00
Lupita Nyong’o, Trevor Noah (Instagram)

Johannebsurg - It was an African reunion when SA-born comedian Trevor Noah and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o decided to meet up for lunch.

The pair recently sat down with the New York Times at the Dutch restaurant in SoHo, New York to discuss, among other things, the lack of diversity in the industry. Something both of them know all too well.

Digging into her beet salad and a cheese omelette, Lupita says that there are many roles outside of those dependent on race that actors of color could participate in, but don't.

"In a film like '12 Years a Slave,' race is of the utmost importance. But there are stories outside the race narrative that everyone can participate in. But we don’t. It’s about expanding our imagination about who can play the starry-eyed one. We also have to ask ourselves what merits Oscar prestige. Often, they’re period stories. And for people of colour, they end up being about slavery or civil rights. A blockbuster won’t do it. Do I have to be in a big Elizabethan gown?"

Trevor also reveals the lengths he had to go to to ensure diversity on his popular late-night talk show, The Daily Show.

"When it comes to diversifying, I had never realized how ingrained people’s mentality can be. It’s not even conscious. When I was looking for new people to try on the show, the network sent out all their tentacles. And people sent in audition tapes. And 95 percent of them were white and male. I was like: 'Does nobody else want to be a part of this show? Does nobody else even want a job?'"

"I said, 'I want more diversity.' And they said, 'But this is what we’re getting.' So I said, 'Then I will go out and look for it in the street. So I went to all the young comedians I knew — black, hispanic, female, whatever — and I said, 'Are you interested?' And they all said: 'Are you crazy? Of course, I’m interested.' So I asked, 'Why didn’t you audition?' And they said, 'We didn’t know about it.' But they told me they’d sent it out to all the agents and managers. And they all went: 'Oh, that’s where you made the mistake. We can’t get agents or managers. We can say we want diversity, but there’s this little roadblock that no one tells you about,'" he adds.

For more on their table talk, including their experiences trying to get a matric farewell date, read here.

Read more on: trevor noah