I have a propensity to have my scripts’ role calls be a bountiful colours of Benetton kind of experience. I believe it’s in reaction to exclusive vanilla television indoctrination for the first couple of decades of my life.

The universe may have recognised my small contribution: John August has posted about the Bechdel Test.

  In your script:

  1.  Are there two or more female characters with names?

  2.  Do they talk to each other?

  3.  If they talk to each other, do they talk about something other than a man?

Amongst the comments on that post was this from American multihyphenate Kevin Arbouet:

  1.  How many scripts out there have two or more black characters with names?

  2.  Do they talk about something other than how white people put them down/The Black Experience?

  3.  Are they a judge?

All my scripts – television in particular – satisfy the first question of both the Bechdel and Arbouet tests (extending the latter test to all non-European* ethnicities).

Not so many of the feature scripts pass questions 2 and 3 of the Bechdel. I’d like to say in my defence that in relation to question 3, my female characters may be discussing a man but it’s never in any romantic context.

As for questions 2 and 3 of the Arbouet, none of my ethnic characters talk about their struggle in this White Man’s World, nor are any of them in a powerful and/or well-respected positions, but they’re representative of the New Zealand I see both firsthand and in the news.

And that’s all one can ask of a script’s cast of characters: that they be appropriate, realistic and representative of whatever world you’re offering your audience.

‘Non-European’ – that’s ‘non-white’ to American readers.

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