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TCA 2012: Andre Braugher, Shawn Ryan Talk Diversity on TV

"I don't have a lot of information on which to judge the world in which there's a white Andre Braugher who did better than I did," said Braugher, who plays a submarine captain in ABC's "Last Resort."

Last Resort ABC TCA Tour - H 2012
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Andre Braugher -- who stars in ABC’s Shawn Ryan/Karl Gajdusek military drama Last Resort -- humorously and thoughtfully deflected questions about a perceived whitewash in primetime television. 

“I don’t have a lot of information on which to judge the world in which there’s a white Andre Braugher who did better than I did,” he said to laughs from media reporters gathered for the final session of ABC’s TCA day. “And I don’t mean to be facetious about it. But you’re talking about a complex world in which people make decisions on a real-time basis.”

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Braugher won a lead actor Emmy in 1998 for the NBC series Homicide.

“In the future things will continue to progress,” he continued. “I think it’s a complex question that I’m not equipped to answer in great detail.”

Ryan -- who also cast Dennis Haysbert in CBS drama The Unit -- allowed that he makes casting decisions based on merit, not skin color. “I wanted the best actor for the role,” he said. “I try to be as color-blind as possible. Networks want people to watch their shows and a lot goes into who the audience is. I just don’t concern myself with that. I concern myself with how good can the show be. Who wouldn’t want [Braugher] saying their words? I’ve done my part, I think.”

In Last Resort, Braugher stars opposite Scott Speedman as a U.S. submarine captain who goes rogue after he uncovers a home-grown conspiracy to annihilate Pakistan.  

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“It will be nice when these questions don’t get asked anymore,” said Ryan. “But unfortunately we’re not up to that point now. But it feels like we’re better off than we were 15, 20 years ago.”

Added Braugher: “I really can’t tell you what the world would be like if people were different. It’s part of a progression and it runs at its own pace. I’m part of the long arc of progress in which people of different races and ethnicities get a chance to shine.” 

E-mail: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie