How ‘Passing’ Upends a Problematic Hollywood History

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Hollywood has a long history of “passing movies”—films in which Black characters pass for white—usually starring white actors. Even as these films have attempted to depict the devastating effect of racism in America, they have trafficked in tired tropes about Blackness. But a new movie from actor-writer-director Rebecca Hall takes the problematic conventions of this uniquely American genre and turns them on their head. Hall tells the story of how her movie came to life, and how making the film helped her grapple with her own family’s secrets around race and identity.

A transcript of this episode will soon be made available. Please check back.

Further reading: Netflix’s ‘Passing’ Is an Unusually Gentle Movie About a Brutal Subject

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This episode was produced by Tracie Hunte and Peter Bresnan with help from Alina Kulman. Editing by Emily Botein, Julia Longoria, and Jenny Lawton. Special thanks to B.A. Parker. Fact-check by Will Gordon. Sound design by David Herman with additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Transcription by Caleb Codding.

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