Rooney Mara: ‘I hate the whitewashing debate’

Actress Rooney Mara hates that she has been involved in two whitewashing scandals with her past two film roles.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo star first felt the force of diversity campaigners when it was announced she was playing Tiger Lily, who is traditionally Native American, in Pan, an origins story inspired by J.M. Barrie’s children’s classic.
Campaigners set up a petition objecting to her casting to send to film studio Warner Bros. It received 96,000 signatures, and she had to subsequently field questions about her role during the press tour.
Rooney admits it was tough and she hopes she is never on the receiving end of such criticism again, telling Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, “(It was a) tricky thing to deal with. There were two different periods; right after I was initially cast, and the reaction to that, and then the reaction again when the film came out.
“I really hate, hate, hate that I am on that side of the whitewashing conversation. I really do. I don’t ever want to be on that side of it again. I can understand why people were upset and frustrated.”
But she ended up involved in the #OscarsSoWhite backlash for her other 2015 movie Carol. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a year where all the main categories consisted of white actors, leading to a backlash about the lack of diversity.
Stars including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are not attending the upcoming ceremony to make a statement. Rooney will be there, but she has such strong opinions on the diversity issue that she doesn’t want to make them public in an interview.
She says,“It is such a sensitive issue I don’t want to reduce it to a sound bite… I feel like that is what is happening. It is being turned into pull quotes and headlines, and that isn’t opening up a conversation so much as pointing fingers at people and taking their awards out of context. I don’t want to step into the conversation in that way.”
The Oscars take place in Los Angeles on Sunday (28Feb16).