I started watching the Twilight movie series begrudgingly. For one reason or another, my sister was a big fan of them and suggested that I watch. And after the first movie, I learned that she was right. The movie was entertaining as hell. And despite some poor, breathy acting from one of the lead characters, I found the entire series engaging AF.
So much so that I didn’t think to question the race or ethnicity of the characters. After all, unfortunately, people of color and especially Black folks don’t feature prominently in horror and fantasy dramas. I just took it for what it was worth.
But apparently, the director of the first film, Catherine Hardwicke, did consider incorporating more characters of color. But Stephanie Meyer, the author of the books, was resistant.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Harwicke said, “(Meyer) had not really written it (the books) that way. So she probably just didn’t see the world that way. And I was like oh my God, I want the vampires, I want them all—Alice, I wanted her to be Japanese! I had all these ideas. And she just could not accept the Cullens to be more diverse, because she had really seen them in her mind, she knew who each character was representing in a way, a personal friend or a relative or something. She said, ‘I wrote that they had this pale glistening skin!’”
Hardwicke says she was able to shift Meyer’s perspective a little bit by adding Kenyan-born Edi Gathegi, who played Laurent, one of the scary antagonistic vampires. But, according to Harwicke, even that was a struggle.
“The only reason that came through was because he was described as having olive skin. And I said, there are Black olives out there! Then she was open to the students in (Bella’s) peer group being other ethnicities, so we got Christian Serratos and Justin Chon, so we were able to open it up a little bit.”
I don’t think the news of a White woman with her book about White teenagers being resistant to characters of color is that much of a surprise. The 53% is strong and her vision was rigid. Honestly, it’s to be expected. Her fighting for diverse casting would have been more of a story. What is interesting about all of this is Hardwicke’s decision to not only share her directorial experience with Meyer but to throw her under the bus a little bit in the process.
See what Black folk had to say about this revelation on the following pages.