Leslie Jones’ recent appearance on The View hit a heartwarming, misty-eyed note when the conversation turned to the Ghostbusters star’s adoration for Whoopi Goldberg.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUZFkY6rLfc
“The day I saw Whoopi Goldberg on television, I cried so hard,” Jones said, as Goldberg beamed at her from across the table. “I kept looking at my daddy going ‘Oh my god, there’s someone on TV that looks like me! She looks like me! Daddy, I can be on TV!’”
Jones hopes that she can serve as a similar inspiration to girls growing up today.
“Now I know what I’m doing,” Jones said. “When I put on that Ghostbusters suit and little girls see me on TV… They’re going to go ‘I can do it.’ You [Goldberg] gave that to me.”
I’ve never had an experience like this in front of the TV, sitting in a movie theater, or watching a performance on a stage. From a young age, I recognized that I was white: the norm, the majority, the default. News, weather, comedy, music, films, all delivered from and carried by white faces. Everybody is a minority in some sense or another, but when it came down to it, I never felt at all underrepresented. I was always one of “us,” never one of “them.”
Not everyone is dealt such a convenient card. I vividly remember one of my best middle school friends, a Filipino, lamenting the way that Asian characters in major films are tossed aside, laughed off as comedic relief, or treated as antagonists, usually lacking actual personalities. One of his favorite movies? Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, a film that does almost exactly the opposite of these things.
Stories like Jones’ makes us feel good at first, but the thought of a comedian as talented as her feeling invisible for the first several years of her life is bleak, to say the least. More than anything, the story is a clear reminder of why representation and diversity is important. Anyone from anywhere can be funny, so everyone should be given an opportunity to shine.