Woody Allen's only black actress Hazelle Goodman defends director's record on diversity: 'He has a right to create his vision'

Actress said she 'doesn't trip' about Allen's typically all-white film casts

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The Independent Culture

Woody Allen is not well known for casting ethnically diverse actors in his films.

Last week, he unveiled the cast for his next untitled movie, which includes Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bruce Willis and Blake Lively - a typically starry cohort lacking in diversity.

But Hazelle Goodman, the only black actress to play a significant role in one of Allen’s film’s - quirky prostitute Cookie in 1997’s Deconstructing Harry - has defended the director’s seemingly all-white “vision”.

Hazelle Goodman plays prostitute Cookie in Woody Allen's 1997 film Deconstructing Harry

Goodman, in addition to Chiwetel Ejiofor who starred in 2004's Melinda and Melinda, is one of the few black actors to have a significant speaking role in Allen’s films, but says he has a “right” to recreate the world as he sees it.


“Any filmmaker has the right to create his vision. That’s his vision. That’s how he sees the world. And he has a right to that, just like if Spike Lee does a film, he puts a lot of black folk in it,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.

The films that show how racially-biased Hollywood really is

“Everyone is creating from their vision. If Woody sees the world that way, that’s Woody’s world. I don’t trip about that.”

Woody Allen's 2014 film Magic in the Moonlight featured a predominantly white cast

Goodman, who has left acting to serve as a minister to women in prison, said she thinks progress on diversity in Hollywood has improved but it is still a “challenge” for black, minority and ethnic actors to stand out.

“There seems to be progress. But it’s an ongoing saga that we see in Hollywood, on billboards, on covers of magazines. It’s a white world that we’re looking at many times," she said.

Midnight in Paris (2011) featured an entirely white cast

“What’s always the challenge for actors is to stand out. Finding your voice and letting that voice be heard.”

Allen’s latest film, Irrational Man, stars Joaquin Phoenix in the main role. He has previously cast Hispanic actors in films including Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Blue Jasmine, but has hired few black actors to take on parts in his movies.