Jessica Alba: Marvel Is ‘Still Quite Caucasian’ Despite ‘Business Initiative’ of Racial Diversity

"If 90 percent of the people in charge don’t look like us, they’re just going to continue to do the same," the "Fantastic Four" alum said of the recent "business initiative" for diversity and racial representation onscreen.
Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by 20th Century Fox/Marvel/Kobal/Shutterstock (5885098k)Chris Evans, Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica AlbaFantastic Four - Rise Of The Silver Surfer - 2007Director: Tim Story20th Century Fox/MarvelUSAScene Still
"Fantastic Four"
20th Century Fox/Marvel/Kobal/Shutterstock

Jessica Alba is getting honest about representation in the MCU.

The Honest Company founder reflected on her experience in Hollywood to Glamour UK, having been called “exotic” when going in for auditions since starting her career at age 11.

“I wanted to be an actress since, forever. I think I always fantasized about living in someone else’s skin and someone else’s reality,” the “Sin City” alum said. “I think I’m naturally an introvert. So for me, it was a way to fit into the world if I get to be somebody else.”

Alba went on to star as Sue Storm in 2005’s “Fantastic Four” and its 2007 sequel, “Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer.” Yet almost 20 years since her first Marvel appearance, Alba doesn’t see as much racial diversity as she’d like.

“Even if you look at the Marvel movies – that’s the biggest driver of fantasy and what’s happening right now in entertainment, because it’s sort of the family thing – it’s still quite Caucasian,” Alba explained. “I would say I was one of the few back in the day… And it was before Marvel was sold to Disney, but it’s still quite more of the same.”

Alba added it’s now a “business initiative” for studio executives to have more representation onscreen after realizing “how much money they can make.”

She continued, “It’s something they care about, which is fine. How they get there really doesn’t matter. You’re like, ‘Great. Now you realize there’s a whole group of folks that you just frankly left out of the conversation because you just didn’t even see them. They were there the whole time.’ And I guess it’s the people in charge.”

Alba, who is Mexican-American, shared, “I just think more for the younger people who are coming up, who are going to be our future leaders, it’s important for them to see the world on screen, or in stories, in the dreams that we create as entertainers; it reflects the world that they’re in.”

She continued that gender equity is also lacking both in representation and in content: “If you have people in charge who aren’t really reflective of the audience you’re appealing to, they only know what they know. They only know what they like. And so they’re going to gravitate towards more of the same. And 50 percent of the population, we’re women. And we like action movies, and we like superheroes, and we like romantic comedies, and we like dramas and horror, and all of that. But if 90 percent of the people in charge don’t look like us, they’re just going to continue to do the same. The system just has to be more diverse.”

A “Fantastic Four” reboot infamously failed in 2015, but Disney is preparing to give the franchise another try. The new project was originally set to be directed by “Spider-Man: No Way Home” helmer Jon Watts, who exited to lead “Star Wars” series “Skeleton Crew.” The cast for the upcoming “Fantastic Four” film has yet to be announced.

The now Disney-owned MCU has since expanded its portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters and international backgrounds, with “Ms. Marvel” and “Moon Knight” both premiering in 2022.

“Ms. Marvel” showrunner Bisha K. Ali exclusively told IndieWire that the series set out to address real-life South Asian history including India’s Partition and mass migration caused when exiting British colonizers drew up arbitrary boundaries for Hindu and Muslim nations.

“‘I don’t fit in because of my religion’ or ‘I don’t but because of my race, and therefore how do I assimilate?’ or ‘How do I put those things together?’ — that really wasn’t something that I was interested in telling,” Ali said. “Rather than us versus them, let’s look at the ‘us.’ Let’s look at who we are and do I know myself and do I know what ‘us’ even is? What that means for me in this family, what that means is community, and what that means in the world that I occupy.”

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