Courtney writes: Mels/River: Person of color
A while back I got chastised for identifying River Song in Doctor Who as a character of color. See, the actress who plays River, Alex Kingston, doesn’t identify as a person of color.
But I think I’ve been justified by the series. By having a person of color, Nina Touissant-White, play young…
Huh. My reaction to Nina Touissant-White as Mels was hope that we’d have an actor of color cast as the Doctor someday.
Melody Pond seems to go from a white baby who grows into a white child who regenerates into a Black child who grows into a Black woman who regenerates into a white woman. Although it’s possible there is another regeneration for her between the end of The Day of the Moon and the flashbacks in Let’s Kill Hitler.
To have Black actresses and white actresses cast for the same character, in the same season as we have mention of a Time Lord who changes sex across regenerations, suggested to me that Time Lords’ and/or Gallifreyans’ physiology isn’t as fixed as has been apparent through the regenerations of the Doctor, Master, Rani, and Romana. It removes the tacit necessity for the Doctor to remain white and male for all time.
Well they don’t even have to regenerate into something that looks human. Romana tried on a short alien with blue skin when she was testing bodies for regeneration and then Nine mentioned in “The Parting of Ways” that he might regenerate into something with two heads or no head at all.
Of course, for practical purposes, we’ll always get a human, because it’s not like we have aliens at hand to play The Doctor and costuming the lead actor to look like a non-human every single time they need to shoot would probably be a nightmare. But since they can change into pretty much anything (even into replicas of real people, as in the case of Princess Astra and Romana II), it shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that they can go from “white” skin to “black” skin and back again. (Though it is surprising - or maybe it’s not - that it took this long to see a regeneration like that happen on screen. I’m not counting Romana’s since she never actually chose the blue alien body, but it did show all the way back then that it was at least possible.)