Racebending and genderbending are not new concepts for the Hollywood community. Roles written for women often go to male actors, racially diverse characters from books often become white when they are adapted for the screen. While the trend may be common, author Neil Gaiman has made it clear that if any studio wants to adapt his works, they must stay true to the racial identity of his characters.
[Editor's Note: Friendly reminder on why turning white characters in PoC is okay but the opposite is not can be found here.]
Recently Gaiman shared his thoughts on “racebending” in an interview with Junot Diaz. Bleeding Cool reports that during the interview, Gaiman brought up two of his books: “Anansi Boys” and “American Gods”. Apparently Gaiman refused to the sell the rights to “Anansi Boys” when a producer told him he would have to change the race of the two main characters because “Black people don't like fantasy.” Considering the entire book is about two brothers whose father was an African god, their race is vital the story and is not something Gaiman would ever consider changing.
Gaiman also shared that he's receiving a lot of support from Bryan Fuller and Starz regarding the new adaptation of his book “American Gods”. Gaiman requested that the main character, Shadow, continue to have a mixed racial background when the studio was casting actors. According to Gaiman the studio has agreed to this:
And it”s been wonderful for me getting sent audition tapes from all of these fantastic actors and going, you”re brilliant and one of you is going to be the lead and that will be great and I love the fact that we are opening things up a little bit. That for me is huge and important. Diversity in all things.
“American Gods” is currently in pre-production at Starz.