Screenwriting : Why doesn't anyone want to play this role in my screenplay? by Zorrawa Emily Ann Jefferson

Why doesn't anyone want to play this role in my screenplay?

Alright, I'm in high school and I'm in a creative writing class. One of my screenplays were selected to be in the school play. In the screenplay I have five roles and only four are filled out. No one wants to be Nelson. It's a screenplay about racism against black people. the main character ( Nelson) gets afraid of his attackers and hides. Then Nelson ends up getting protected and recused by a female character. I asked several black guys to play as Nelson and they all said no. Two guys acted out the script, One said no and the other said the story is poorly written and refused to have any part in it. Does anyone know why the guys at my school are acting like this? Why can I get people to play the attackers, the woman characters but I can't get a black guy to play Nelson? :/

Dan MaxXx

wussy main character.

Paul Mahoney

Hi Emily, Not having seen your script we can't say if it's good or bad. Even then, some people will have different views. Think of how many times JK Rowling got rejected. I think Bill has a good point. Not many teenage males I knew would want an acting role where they're being beaten up. If they take on a role like that they might think they have less chances of impressing a girl or perhaps be bullied themselves outside of the play. Most teenage boys want to be a hero, like Harrison Ford, smart-ass like Eddie Murphy, or cool with the ladies like James Bond. Maybe get feedback and ask the two guys who acted out the play how they would improve it? Be prepared for a grunt or the comment just make it better. Or maybe try to give him a special skill or some good lines that make Nelson appear either cooler, funnier or a chick magnet. Tragic/hopeless often doesn't seem like a fun role for a teenage boy. Hope this helps. Cheers, Paul

Larry DeGala

No one wanted to play wussy Forrest Gump. They passed because they were not serious actors of a higher caliber, confident to risk Big, to fight in the trenches of Vietnam, to belong to the greater fabric of life and the universe. Except for Tom Hanks. And now you have a straight answer. :)

Larry DeGala
Hero Lux

Here's the issue you have a interesting power dynamic just based off you summary. It's not so much that your script wasn't any good, the actors were uncomfortable, and to be honest you're probably not giving them anything to bite into. What's in it for them? Everyone wants to be the tough guy because that's a fulfilling experience for them. Playing a coward doesn't give them the same rush. Now does that mean that your script is bad? Not really what's it really is is that the actors you're asking are not versatile and haven't developed playing robust and imperative characters with in a particular scope. Play to their natural strengths. If they're funny make them Funny. Not the serious guy. Your in high school so I'm guessing (Yes, Guessing) You have a minute or no budget and limited resources. I'm guessing you're either paying your actors very little if at all. And I'm guess you're borrowing most of your equipment, if not have access to low (Go Pro, Camcorder, etc.) or Mid-Range (DSLR, Camcorder, Etc.) So. . . what's the value proposition? How are they going to look good on screen? And to reiterate What's it in for them? In closing. . . It's not necessarily the script but the quality of actors you're casting. You need to find yourself Actors with a wider range. Check out this Video by one my favorite youtubers Darious Britt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEenfn8W-5U Sorry for all the assumptions but I hope this helps.

Dan MaxXx

Right off the bat, you are using the wrong "tools" for the job. You wrote a screenplay for a stage. Live Theater.

Hero Lux

Dan that was definitely something I was thinking about when I re-read the post this morning. I had assume that it was for the screen because it's a screenplay and not for the stage. I just thought it was strange. Glad someone noticed it.

Richard Willett

I'm guessing that maybe male actors at your age don't want to play a guy who hides and is saved by a woman. They're confusing an acting role with who they are as young men. This even happens in Hollywood, by the way, with big male stars who never want to appear weak.

William Martell

Don't ask us, ask yourself and figure it out.

David E. Gates

And I guess you were never told anything William and you worked everything out yourself? What a dumb response.

Jedidiah Oligbinde

I quite agree with Richard Willett. At your age, guys don't want to take up a script/role that might become a thing of gossip in the school. So maybe if you add some blocking were Nelson in turn rescues or helps out the female character, they might show interest.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Geez, David, why so dismissive? William's statement is valid and wise. As a writer/creative you do need to develop your own problem-solving skills, your own sense of direction. You must learn how to be a leader. Sure, as a young person, you may need some guidance here and there. But it is up to Emily to figure out. I recall being thrown to the wolves in school/college!—think for yourself, kiddo! Lol! We all deal with self-doubt, but in taking risks and pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone we also develop self-confidence and strength. ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Emily, congratulations on your screenplay being selected for class. That's great! Perhaps start an open dialogue with your teacher/instructor. Perhaps talk to the person(s) you are hoping will take on the role of "Nelson." Ask for objective feedback. Get specific reasons from the people you are working with. What are their issues with this character? Don't guess. ASK! Then take it all in, see if their points add depth to your character and story. Perhaps your script will be better because of it. Understand that your story is not "you." It is something outside of yourself. It's a project. Don't take it personally. Don't shut down and act defeated. Solve the problem. Work with your team. You can do this! I hope it goes well! ;)

Doug Nelson

Congratulations on having your script selected - high five to you. I work with young people all the time, and sometimes it's hard. I suspect that what you're up against is simple age appropriate lack of maturity in your cast group. Serious social issues such as racism generally require more highly trained acting skills. But good luck with it.

Michael L. Burris

Congrats Emily and hope you find a guy with enough personal character as well character. Maybe ask them in a different manner such as "Geez you guys know anybody who has enough character to do this?" Challenge them.

Steven Morris

Perspective. You present an idea (i.e. screenplay) your way. Talk to them about what it means and possibly try to see it from their perspective and them yours. Break Nelson down in 60 seconds, good and bad. Also, incentives. It might sound crazy but explain the role then offer a free movie or pizza or whatever high schoolers do these days lol. Good luck and congrats.

Steven Morris

The world is made of all sorts of people doing things they don't want because of incentives. Like a paycheck :) Don't pay them though just an example.

Desiree Middleton

It might be because Nelson gets rescued by a female character. Is Nelson incapable of saving himself? Is he completely helpless?

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

It's probably a personal prejudice but I really dislike inactive characters and it sounds to me like the character which you wrote and which actors don;t want to play is simply too passive. So give your character more to do. Maybe your character ends up hiding because he makes a series of mistakes. Or after a burst of activity which gets him into all kinds of trouble, he hides but is quickly found and confronted by those who want to wring his neck. My advice - avoid passive characters.

Zorrawa Emily Ann Jefferson

I found someone already

Hero Lux

Congrats! I hope our advice was helpful (Not that I can speak for everyone) Going to send you a network request. If you ever need help with screenwriting or storytelling don't hesitate to ask. I hope your piece turns out wonderful.

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