EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was originally published on October 9, 2016, as a report out of New York Comic Con.
One of the grand joys of strolling through New York Comic Con is seeing the great diversity of nerd culture presented there. You’ll not only spot cosplays from comics, video games, TV and movies, but also cosplayers (and more casually dressed fans) of every color, creed, and gender identity. It’s little wonder, then, that representation in these mediums has become a growing issue among the fans who support them.
During the “Doctor Who” portion of BBC America’s panel at Madison Square Garden’s Theater, an audience member asked actress of color Pearl Mackie and head writer/producer Steven Moffat to weigh in on the issue of diversity.
“I think that in 2016 it’s frustrating that we still have to have this conversation,” Mackie began, some of her response lost as the audience applauded enthusiastically. “Especially in science fiction though, I think (diversity) is something that’s been lacking. But something I noticed at the BBC America party last night is that there’s a lot of strong women of color in the three series that are part of this panel,” she said, alluding to “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’s” Jade Eshete and “Class” cast member Vivian Oparah. “Which I think is great. And it’s something that shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be fore-fronted like, ‘Look at what we’re doing. Look at us, we’re so great.’ [Instead] it’s like, ‘It’s about time. Let’s do this.'”
The audiences erupted with cheers, and only quieted when Moffat was pressed for his thoughts. Having come under fire in recent years for the lack of diversity on “Doctor Who,” Moffat has considered the growing demand for more inclusive casting in television and film. At the panel, he said simply, “It’s not something we’re looking for a pat on the back for, to be honest. I think people watching television should see people like themselves on there. That’s just a fact.”
“Doctor Who” returns April 15 on BBC One and BBC America.