The original script for CBS's new sci-fi show Mission Control had lead roles written for a Latinx woman and a black man, but both ultimately ended up going to white actors, The Wrap reported.
Poppy Montgomery, who is white, will play Julia Towne, a character originally written to have a white father and a Latinx mother. In the original script, the character was bilingual, and would speak in Spanish. According to The Wrap, Montgomery's character will not speak Spanish in the show.
The show also reportedly featured a black NASA commander named Malik Stevenson. That role will now be played by white actor David Giuntoli.
A source familiar with the show told The Wrap that both roles were originally offered to actors who aren't white. According to the source, the actors of color declined the leading roles before those same roles were offered to Montgomery and Giuntoli. So the lesson is, if one person of color turns you down, it means you should immediately turn to a white person.
Although the lead roles of Mission Control will now both be white, the show does feature other actors of color, including Ricardo Chavira, who is Latinx, and black actress Wunmi Mosaku.
Still, the casting points to an alarming trend: the whitewashing of characters of color, particularly in science fiction.
The adaptation of the iconic Japanese sci-fi film and television series Ghost in the Shell coming out later this month also features a white actress–Scarlett Johansson–playing the lead role. Iron Fist gave Netflix ample opportunity to cast an Asian actor as Marvel's first Asian superhero star–but white man Finn Jones got the job instead. Even the live action remake of the Japanese manga and anime series Death Note got whitewashed, from its casting to its setting. Over 11,000 people have signed an online petition promising to boycott the Netflix remake unless actors of color–particularly Asian actors–are cast. And earlier this month, sci-fi author Nnedi Okorafor tweeted about how the original cover of one of her books featured a white woman instead of a black Muslim teen, like the book's protagonist.