Take a peek above and you will see the many redheads characters recasted. We believe it is a sign of the times and a powerful (and positive) step closer to true inclusivity.
When a cartoon, comic, or otherwise animated work moves from animation/drawing to live action, there are decisions made about how the characters will be portrayed. Some characters aren’t drawn in a way that translates to real-life people, while others may change in appearance to fit a certain look.
One huge point that comes up whenever a piece of work is made live-action is the so-called “recasting of redheads”. Often redheads are recast with actors who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC).
As redheads, we’re familiar with feeling underrepresented, and we aren’t the only ones. White characters have dominated film and television since the beginning of time, and only in the last decade or so have we really seen diversity starting to creep into entertainment (thankfully). An article from libertainism.org called “Where Have All The Disney Redheads Gone” explains that giving a character red hair was a way to feel inclusive, while now in 2023, black skin functions as a more “effective external signifier”.
“When Sony Pictures released a new film version of Annie in 2014, replacing the redheaded Annie of the 1920s with Quvenzhané Wallis, it was simply a realistic reflection of the changing cultural and racial mores of America in the intervening century,” libertainism.org explains. The article’s synopsis is: “The recasting of redheads is simply a ‘Reasonable Artistic Decision’.
In a recent Reddit thread, someone asked the r/Redhair community how they feel about this. Take a peek at some of their comments:
Overwhelmingly, redheads are talking on Reddit about disliking how and why redheads are recasted. Many feel “disappointed” to see redhead characters they loved and related to as a child be recast, but at the same time, they understand that representation is important.
Most of the other commenters on the post also express some annoyance or frustration feeling like redheads are being erased from these roles. Others point out that it’s disrespectful to both redheads and the BIPOC communities. Many people seem disappointed but also have some sort of understanding of why this happens, and some even point out that most actors portraying redheads in movies and TV aren’t real redheads anyway — so, why does it matter?
This issue is one that probably won’t be going away anytime soon, but hopefully, there can be some sort of compromise where everyone gets the representation they deserve. In the meantime, we will sit back and enjoy watching many redhead characters transformed into a more mainstream, inclusive version. We believe change is good and the best advice we can give redheads is — keep rockin’ your red hair and love who you are. Then, maybe you will be the true redhead representation we all need. It’s important to lead by example and be open to change. We’ll leave with one of our favorite quotes, “The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open.” ― C. JoyBell C.
Rock it like a Redhead!