This weekend I saw Steve Jobs, the latest film examining the life of the personally flawed visionary who led Apple at various times in the last 30 years. There have been documentaries about Jobs as well as feature films starring Ashton Kutcher and more recently, Michael Fassbender. Jobs was obviously an important figure in the world and in American pop culture and his story is worth telling, but the real question is why, in 2015, must Steve Jobs continue to be played by white men exclusively, especially since his father was Syrian? It is just the latest, and perhaps most egregious example of Hollywood’s overwhelming bias towards white men. Late night television continues to be dominated by them (though Trevor Noah and Larry Wilmore may represent a positive shift in one direction at least) and the recent comments concerning Idris Elba playing James Bond are also a good example of how much progress is still left. But it is time for Hollywood to begin seeing Steve Jobs in a different way. So what if he looked mostly Caucasian; Jobs implored the world to “think different” in the late 1990s and we would be wise to heed his advice. So here is a list of men, women and trans persons who would be great choices for the next Steve Jobs film:
1) Amy Poehler and Tina Fey – every time any opening for any show or role comes up it seems these two get mentioned so why not start with them. Admittedly they have had little commercial success on their own and Fey, especially, has proven most skilled as a writer post SNL, but those are small details. Yes, Steve Jobs was one person and Poehler and Fey are technically two people, but they are a package deal and if they can host the Golden Globe Awards then I am certain that playing the role of a solitary white man is within their skill set.
2) Steve Harvey – the man broke the white ceiling on game show hosting with his brilliant turn on Family Feud has terrible luck with women, having been divorced three times. But Steve Jobs also had terrible luck with women and was also good at giving people advice (in technical realms), while lacking those skills himself, the same way Harvey does with relationship advice. It would be a brave, but also perfect choice to have Harvey play Jobs. And a 6 button mock turtle neck would modernize the Jobs’ look.
3) Michael Pena – Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the United States and yet, not one actor or actress has been even considered for Steve Jobs. Well Pena has proven adept at drama and comedy and Jobs’ was one-half person of color (1/2 Syrian) so it is actually offensive that Pena has not played him yet.
4) Chelsea Handler – the bravest 38 or 52 year old woman in Hollywood, Handler has long been overlooked for things and the time is now for her to be considered. She is a fearless pop culture commentator in the mold of comedy legend Kathy Griffin and she has had enough sex and empowering experiences with men to know how to play a man perfectly in a film.
5) Laverne Cox – Black. Trans. 2015. Steve Jobs. I don’t think I need to write any more. Wake up America.
6) Carly Fiorina – when her bid to become president fails officially I would love to see Fiorina play Jobs. She was also a tech CEO forced out for fu*king up and she had Cancer. What better method acting prep would she need, other than actually breaking through with a success story? Well perhaps being cast as Steve Jobs would be that victorious epilogue she needs.
7) Michael Strahan – if Jobs doesn’t have to be white, or male, then why does he have to be unlikable too? Strahan has been like a friendly black St Bernard that America has trusted with their entertainment and their small blond white women. So now it is time to let the black Mario Lopez have a shot at the iconic Steve Jobs.
So let’s hope it doesn’t take Hollywood too much longer to wake up. It shouldn’t take another Steve Jobs’ visionary to see that Steve Jobs’ cannot be played by white men forever.