Matt Damon Is Confused About Diversity on Project Greenlight
After a 10-year hiatus, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s documentary series Project Greenlight premiered Sunday.
The series helps budding filmmakers by giving them a chance to direct their first movie. But in the long-awaited reboot, Damon highlighted a key problem with diversity in Hollywood.
In the first episode, Damon, Affleck, and several other producers discuss which filmmaker among the finalists should be chosen to direct a film. Damon and Affleck reveal their top four choices, all of whom are white men.
Effie Brown, a female black producer, is the only judge who’s a person of color. Perhaps most well-known for her film Dear White People, Brown voices her concerns about the portrayal of the sole black character in a film, a prostitute named Harmony.
“I would just urge people to think about whoever this director is, the way that they’re going to treat the character of Harmony, her being a prostitute,” Brown says. “[She’s] the only black person, being a hooker who gets hit by her white pimp.”
Damon interrupts Brown’s attempt to convey that maybe an all-white crew wouldn’t be the best fit to direct the film’s storyline, and as she tries to respond, he talks over her.
“When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show,” Damon explains.
Brown reacts in the only way possible, letting out a “Wow. Okay.”
Damon’s response is as much shocking as it is flat-out wrong—his version of diversity is enforcing an unfortunate reality in Hollywood. According to a study by USC Annenberg, there were two women directors and five black directors in the top 100 films of 2014. Only one out of the total 107 directors was a black woman.
Fortunately, Damon’s less-than-admirable input can spark a conversation about diversity behind the camera. But c’mon, Matt, you’re seriously letting us down.