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How "Lucifer" was (Surprisingly) One of the Most Ethnically-Diverse Shows in Modern Television

It's Almost as Diverse as L.A. -- Almost

By Alex CaseyPublished about a year ago 4 min read
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"Lucifer" (Netflix)

At first sight, Lucifer appears to be a fairly White show, with only Amenadiel and Maze standing out with their darker complexions. But the show is more diverse than you might think, especially once we get to meet more of God’s children.

The Beloved Main Cast

Lucifer Main Cast (Netflix)

The pilot introduced the majority of the main cast, more than half of whom were people of color. D.B. Woodside, playing Amenadiel, is Black American and Lesley-Ann Brandt, playing Maze, is South African-born. Kevin Alejandro, who plays Dan, has Mexican parents from mixed ancestry, and adorable Trixie is played by Scarlett Estevez, who is a mix of Hispanic and Caucasian (just like the character).

The second season introduced delightful Ella, played by Aimee Garcia, whose parents are of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. With this number of Latinx performers, it should be no surprise that Spanish is spoken throughout the series.

God’s Five Children

There was a joke in early seasons about Lucifer and Amenadiel being adopted brothers. Still, it was nice to imagine that God could have children of different races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations. And the show does this well.

Uriel (Netflix)

We meet Uriel first, and while he’s unlikely to be anyone’s favorite, he is a good introduction to the possibility of other angels, and he doesn’t resemble either of his brothers. He’s played by Michal Imperioli, an American actor with Italian grandparents.

Azrael (Netflix)

Next, we meet Azrael, the angel of death. Despite Lucifer calling her “no sweet peach” earlier in the series, she’s a quirky, witty, kind angel with the best interests of those she loves at heart. She’s played by Charlyne Yi, who has a mixed heritage including Filipino, Korean, Mexican, and Native American. Additionally, Yi describes themself as queer and non-binary, which is a great addition to the angels, who historically have been considered gender-neutral.

Remiel (Netflix)

The last angel to have an independent storyline was Remiel, played by Vinessa Vidotta who has mixed heritage, including Vietnamese.

Therefore, the first five angels we see differ in appearance, gender, and ethnicity. In fact, Tom Ellis, with Welsh ancestry, is the lightest of them all.

The Other Angels

Gabriel (Netflix)

In Season 5, we meet several other angels. With the exception of Michael, also played by Ellis, none of them have a significant storyline. Nevertheless, they do play important roles and we get to see a range of traits.

Raziel (Netflix)

Many of the introduced angels are played by White Americans, but we do have exceptions. Raziel, an angel with mixed emotions, is played by Kellina Rutherford, an American actress with Black and Hispanic ancestry. Kimia Behpoornia, who plays Gabriel, is the child of Iranian parents and identifies as queer. This is another gentle nod to gender-neutral angels.

Excluding Tom Ellis’ dual role, 60% of the angels in the first five seasons were played by people of color, with some LGBTQ+ representation.

Other Characters of Note

Eve (Netflix)

As soon as I saw her pick up the appletini, I knew Eve would be an important part of the series (although I was unprepared for the actual storyline). And I hoped that the show would cast someone from the Middle East. Intentionally or otherwise, that’s what happened when they cast Israeli actress Inbar Lavi.

Lee Garner (Netflix)

“Mr. Said Out Bitch” who eventually gets the real name “Lee Garner” is a recurring character who appears in the first episode of Seasons 2-5 and the last episode of Season 5. For a character who only made 5 appearances, he had an surprisingly important role. He’s played by Jeremiah Birkett, and although there is little known about Birkett, it’s likely that he is Black American.

Caleb (Netflix)

Despite only appearing in one episode, Caleb Mayfield left several ripples in the show that continued to impact storylines. Played by Black American Denny Love, this character addresses problems with race in America, including violence and police brutality.

God and Goddess (Netflix)

While I would have liked to see the Goddess as a different ethnicity, I appreciate that she tried numerous bodies before landing in the very talented Tricia Helfer. But the show turns the table with Dennis Haysbert, a Black American actor, playing the Almighty.

Sister Angelica (Netflix)

Finally, the show does a decent job of incorporating different races and ethnicities into the tertiary characters in the crime storylines. Examples include:

  • Korean Americans Lanny Joon and Edward Andrew Yoon Beom Shin (Yellow Viper & Benny Choi)
  • Algerian American Kade Wise and Columbian Carolina Gómez (Chet & Bianca Ruiz)
  • Black Americans Redaric Williams and Richard T. Jones (Ty Huntley & Joe Hanson)
  • Taiwanese American Christina Chang and Black American Dorian Missick (Vanessa Dunlear & Will Fleming)
  • Puerto Rican Ivonne Coll and Multi-ethnic Chaley Rose (Sister Angelica & Destiny Page)
  • Puerto Rican Wilmer Calderon, Mexican American Chelsea Rendon, Russian Julia Emelin, and Armenian American Arthur Darbinyan (Officer Luis Navarro, Camilla, Svetlana, and Andrei)

Is It Enough?

Ella Meets God (Netflix)

In real life, Los Angeles was only 22% White in 2019. The show’s main cast is roughly 38% White, so Fox/Netflix could have done a bit better, but Lucifer was leagues beyond several of its competitors.

Many police procedural shows are more likely to have people of color as simple antagonists and criminals, rather than complex characters. Showing people of color as complicated protagonists, innocent bystanders, and even red herrings was definitely a step in the right direction.

After all, God is a person of color, too.

God's Introduction (Netflix)

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About the Creator

Alex Casey

I'm a full-time educator and part-time writer. My best ideas usually end up on Vocal.

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