Steve (Edgar Ribon) is an actor with a very unique look. Well, more appropriately, looks. Able to pass for any number of ethnicities, Steve is in a rut where his versatility is becoming a liability. See, it’s great that he can play so many different ethnicities convincingly, and can speak numerous languages, but most of the casting sessions he goes on come down to the most arbitrary of deciding factors that have little to do with his talent: his height, whether he looks ethnic enough, or too ethnic, for the various roles. He’s essentially stuck in the ambiguous middle.
Edgar Ribon’s short film, Multi Ethnic, in which Ribon also stars as Steve, follows the lead on his various casting calls, giving a look into the hardship that can come along with being an actor with ethnicity that is less easily defined. It also shows the other side of it, which is the self-affirmations and confidence necessary to continue to walk through doors that are only slightly open, and so easily closed.
That said, I’m not sure what the overall point was of Multi Ethnic. Was it to point out that these actors exist, and are slipping through arbitrary casting cracks despite their abilities? Is the entire short film a reel of sorts for writer/director/actor Ribon? As far as narrative goes, save for Steve’s multilingual skills, there’s nothing all that unique or interesting about an actor going on auditions that he may or may not get a job from. I don’t even think it would be all that interesting to other actors, and they’re the group most likely to empathize with the plight of our main character.
Ribon does a fine job as Steve, so the problems are not with the performances from him or the rest of the cast, but there’s just not much story to this story. There’s an idea, that one’s greatest strength can sometimes be their greatest weakness, but not much beyond that. If you don’t care whether Steve does or doesn’t book a gig, there’s little in this film for you.
Overall, Multi Ethnic is competent, but it feels like a show reel aimed more at getting work from a production company or studio than it is aimed at entertaining an audience. Which, if that is the case, it shows that Ribon can act, can mostly direct himself but should work on the writing a bit more. I’m not saying there isn’t something to this premise, but it can’t just be a guy going on auditions. There’s got to be something more to the tale.
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