Nancy Drew is many things: clever, spunky, nosy, a good friend. But there is no reason she has to be white, says an entertainment executive rebooting the series of popular detective books for TV.
“She is diverse. That is the way she is written,” said Glenn Geller, CBS Entertainment president, told the Hollywood Reporter after the Television Critics Association press conference.
The network is developing a drama that re-imagines the girl-detective as a 30-year-old woman, and a person of colour, he said.
Although Geller would not specify what ethnicity she would be, he said she definitely would not be white.
“(She will) not (be) Caucasian,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “I’d be open to any ethnicity.”
The announcement came after Geller told the press that CBS is intentionally trying to diversify its lineup by developing characters and series for people of colour.
“We have a lot of new series in development, both series that are targeted to have full African-American or Latino casts, and that’s the creative. But also many leads that are being developed, and we’re not casting colour-blind. We’re casting colour-conscious,” Geller told the Television Critics Association.
“It’s not the best actor wins. It’s right roles for diversity, and those are the kind of shows we’re going to be putting on the air. That’s what I’m doing. I think, again, when you see the casts up on the stage, you will see a difference.”
Nancy Drew isn’t the only heroine to undergo a transformation recently. In December, J.K. Rowling caused a stir when she endorsed black actress Noma Dumezweni for the role of Hermione in the new Harry Potter theatre production in London.
“Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione,” Rowling tweeted.
Shows such as ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat and Fox’s Empire have helped bring some much-needed diversity to network TV, but there is still a long way to go, as networks still draw from a well of racial and ethnic stereotypes, wrote the Toronto Star’s Tony Wong in his review of the Rush Hour premier.
“The angry, loud-mouthed African-American hustler and the rule-following Chinese nerd who also happens to know kung fu . . . . Fast forward 18 years and Rush Hour, the TV series, seems to have taken the original playbook and sealed it in bronze,” Wong wrote.
“The series is instantly recognizable to fans of the movie, which is the point: you don’t experiment when you already have the recipe to a Big Mac.
“But adhering to formula in a more enlightened and diverse TV landscape also reveals its overriding weakness.”
— with files from Tony Wong