Casting director Sophie Holland, who has worked on a number of big name genre projects including Netflix’s Wednesday, The Witcher, Shadow and Bone as well as Prime Video’s The Peripheral recently revealed how she uses her position to push her own political worldview.
During an interview as part of Jenelle Riley’s Acting Up newsletter that was subsequently published by Variety, Holland was first asked about which project confirmed she wanted to work in the field of casting.
As part of her answer, she said, “I think the first time I felt like a casting director was when I worked on something called The Kill Team by Dan Krauss, which was the story of American soldiers over in Afghanistan. It was the first time I understood that casting wasn’t just about finding beautiful people who could do the American accent convincingly, but that casting could have a real, profound impact on the people watching it.”
She later added, “You can affect change in whatever tiny way because you are in people’s homes and they’re watching this world. And that sort of solidified when I had a child, she’s five now, and I thought how hard it is to be a girl.”
“I remember thinking I have to help her because she’s going to come under attack, just like I did, just because she’s a girl,” Holland elaborated. “Maybe she’ll be lucky and get to nine before somebody calls her a b***h. And it made me so sad that she was going to experience that and I couldn’t protect her from that.”
“But what I could do is change the way people see women through casting. I can make them powerful and empowering and then the floodgates will open to them,” she asserted.
Holland went on to reveal she applies this theory to every job she takes on, “I do apply this theory to everything and it makes me push boundaries a little harder because I think representation is important. Not just for women, but all minority groups.”
“Like, people have different physical abilities and I think it’s important they’re seen in strong and fierce roles. Realizing this was a real moment of falling in love with my craft in a way that feels very specific to me,” she said.
Holland went on to specifically explain why she chose to race-replace Yennefer in The Witcher, “I am always the first to champion diversity in all its glory. One that springs to mind was the character of Yennefer on The Witcher. Lauren Schmidt Hissrich is the showrunner and we work so well together and she’s so open to conversations.”
“In the book, she’s described as the most beautiful woman in the world. This was a few years ago and I’d like to think things have changed. But when you think about people’s unconscious bias – especially in the fantasy world, it felt like these worlds were predominantly white. And I remember saying, ‘I feel like we need to challenge what people think of as the standard of beauty. And having a woman of color in this role does incredibly powerful things to the people watching,” she admitted.
Author Andrzej Sapkowski described Yennefer in The Last Wish, “A pale triangular face, violet eyes and narrow, slightly contorted lips appeared beneath the black tresses.”
She and apparently Hissrich clearly chose to cast an actress, in this case Chalotra, that did not look like how the character was depicted in Sapkowski’s original works and she did it because she apparently has an issue with white women being depicted and described as being beautiful.
This philosophy of eschewing the source material to promote woke identity politics at Netflix appears to be massively misfiring as the recent premiere of The Witcher Season 3 saw a 50% decline in hours viewed compared to the show’s second season premiere.
The series’ Season 2 premiere released on December 17, 2021 and quickly topped Netflix’s charts as the most viewed English-language show with 142.4 million hours viewed in its first week.
It continued its dominance into its second week with an even greater 168.4 million hours viewed.
The release of the third season of the show on June 29, 2023 saw the series top the English-language charts, but it only brought in 73 million hours viewed.
In its second weekend, it did not increase like the second season, but saw a decline to 66.5 million despite still being top on the charts. It also saw its views decline from 15.2 million to 13.8 million. By its third week, it’s hours viewed had declined to 32.1 million and was down to 6.7 million views.
Netflix appeared to notice the massive drop and attempted ensure fans that Henry Cavill was still playing Geralt after he announced he would be stepping away from the role following the third season.
The official Witcher Twitter account ran a campaign stating, “Yes, he’s still Geralt in Season 3.”
Just in case you need a reminder. pic.twitter.com/bvV0hYjymU
— The Witcher (@witchernetflix) July 3, 2023
The third season also has an atrocious 24% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes.
What do you make of Sophie Holland admitting to embracing woke identity politics to “affect change” in viewers and change their “unconscious bias?”