A British woman of Pakistani origin was reportedly turned away from auditions for Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit in New Zealand on the basis that she was not white enough.
Naz Humphreys, who is 5ft tall, had travelled to Hamilton from Auckland last Tuesday in the hope of securing an extra role on Peter Jackson’s forthcoming two-part adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s classic fantasy tale. However, according to the Waikato Times, she was told after a three-hour wait that her skin tone made it unlikely she would be cast.
“It’s 2010 and I still can’t believe I’m being discriminated against because I have brown skin,” Ms Humphreys told the Waikato Times. “The casting manager basically said they weren’t having anybody who wasn’t pale-skinned.”
Of course, I imagine this isn’t a problem limited to the film; it has its roots in the novel (as much as I loved it). Michael Moorcock touched on the peripheries of these kinds of issues in his Epic Pooh essay, but I’m only surprised there hasn’t been more discussion of race since the first The Lord of the Rings films were released. But indeed, there are many, many white people in these books, and that’s something that can’t be overlooked. So should film-makers recruit a more balanced mix of races given our culture is different these days, or leave things as they are?