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Why Are There So Few Parts For British Asian Actors?: An Analysis & A Screenplay Competition

January 13, 2019
Why Are There So Few Parts For British Asian Actors

Over the last year or two, I have basically taken my eye off of film and television.

Theatre is just easier and the money turns over much more quickly. Two weeks after the show, you get money in your bank.

I’ve not acted in three years because there was simply too much I didn’t control. I got one audition in 3 years. And I’ll tell you, the economics of the acting profession really hit you in the face when you walk into a casting director’s office in Manchester and are confronted by over a hundred people who all look kind of like you.

My brain started reeling off lines from Fight Club, “You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

So I decided to concentrate on magic, a career in which I have personal control, and in which I could push forward on my own terms. And I have. And it’s been fun! It has achieved almost everything I wanted it to.

But I’ve got urges, man.

Magic’s great. I love it. And a magician I will always be. And just for the record, I’m not planning to give up. I will be touring this year and I have at least three or four stage tours left in me and a bunch of ideas for TV. And I’ll continue doing the Edinburgh Festival for as long as it continues to be profitable to do so.

But for me, magic was always a part of a bigger picture, a bigger master plan. One income stream out of several.

And I feel that now the time is right to give acting another “try”.

Which raises the question – why are there so few parts for Asian actors? I’ve been flicking through play texts for the past year or so, every time I find myself down at Foyles on the South Bank, looking for a play I could option for the screen and I haven’t found anything I really want to do.

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There don’t seem to be (m)any stories written to star brown people. And if you don’t want that story to be themed around forced marriage, honour killings or Islamist terrorism, it’s a fairly empty barrel. And yet I know dozens of brown people. None has ever taken up terrorism, been involved in an honour killing as either victim or perp, and none to my knowledge has been forced to marry anybody.

So where are all the stories about real people? Where are all the roles for Asian people in stories that aren’t so… cliche?

Of course, it’s likely that there are very few Asian roles because there are very few Asian writers. As a culture we have a fairly unhealthy fixation on medicine, IT and law. So for every one Amit Dhand there are a hundred James Pattersons.

Late last year, on the quiet, I launched a production company – the humorously and eponymously named adampatelevision (I know! I’m so witty!) – and began putting together a slate.

After making “Real Magic” it just seemed like the natural next step. I’m no stranger to film-making and have quite a bit of experience as a producer.

I have a couple of half-finished screenplays I’ve been itching to finish for years but have irritatingly just never had time. And it is that lack of time that is part of the problem because the creative process is extremely time consuming.

The first half of January 2019 has involved some serious soul searching and decision-making. As I’ve said before, plans are often made with extremely optimistic timelines. And because of my other commitments, I cannot solve this problem by myself.

So here’s my solution. I propose a competition…

Introducing the Smashing Stereotypes Screenplay Competition!

If you are a writer, write me a script.

The Rules

I’m looking for scripts with a male British-Asian lead in his late twenties or early thirties.

Thriller or comedy-centred and not even a whiff of terrorism, honour killings or arranged marriages.

Aim for a budget level of up to £250k. No period or sci-fi.

And if you base it in Yorkshire, that’d be a bonus too! (It’s a lot cheaper to shoot there than here in London).

And just to be clear: I’m looking for stories featuring brown people. You do not have to be of South Asian descent to submit a story. ANYBODY can enter.

There are no restrictions of any kind on the applicant themselves, only on the story.

The Prize

The winning script will be made into a feature film and the winning writer will win £1000, though we are looking for a professional standard of writing and reserve the right not to choose a winner if we don’t find such a script.

The winner will be announced by adampatelevision in early 2020.

Runner-up scripts may be optioned and the writers may be hired to develop stories we have in development.

How To Enter & Entry Deadline

FINISHED screenplays (no treatments or “ideas”) should be submitted in PDF format to submissions@adampatelevision.com with the e-mail subject: SMASHING STEREOTYPES COMPETITION.

The deadline for submissions is November 30th 2019.

Good luck!

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