Why Stephanie Meyers Specifically Wrote That All Vampires In 'Twilight' Must Be White

Photo: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock / Summit Entertainment
Stephanie Meyers Twilight

“The Twilight Saga” has had a rebirth on Netflix over the last couple of months, much to the delight of our 2010s selves.

But in the years since the first film’s 2008 release — and the book’s 2005 publication — analyses of and revelations about the making of the blockbuster series have tarnished its likability. 

Amongst Gen Z, some have accused “Twilight” of containing “Mormon propaganda,” which was explored in this TikTok

For the purposes of this article, it must be distinguished that Meyers’ more racially biased influences stem from Mormonism as it existed in the 1800s and 1900s, before the Church of Latter-Day Saints grew to reject the term.

Though some Black people say racial discrimination still exists in the Church, Meyers books and their influences should in no way be a reflection on the attitudes of the entire Church. 

Is ‘The Twilight Saga’ racist?

From Stephanie Meyer’s alleged resistance to casting people of color to her more implicit racial bias within the books, there’s plenty of racist moments in “The Twilight Saga.” 

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Stephanie Meyers allegedly resisted casting people of color. 

Let’s start with claims made by Catherine Hardwicke — the director of the first instalment of the film series — in 2018 about Meyer’s influence over casting choices. 

“I wanted a lot more of the cast to be diverse,” Hardwicke claims, adding that Meyer, who was raised in the Church Of Latter-Day Saints, was resistant due to how she had envisioned her characters.

“Alice, I wanted her to be Japanese! I had all these ideas. And she just could not accept the Cullens to be more diverse.”

Hardwicke says the author put her foot down, refusing to have any people of color play the Cullens. 

“She said, I wrote that they had this pale glistening skin!” Hardwicke alleged. Meyers did eventually concede on having a Black, Kenyan actor play Laurent — a terrifying villain. 

She also allowed Hispanic and Asian actors to play Bella’s high school friends who are sideline characters at best. 

Hardwick was a celebrated female director before being booted from the franchise and branded difficult. 

One could argue her criticisms of Meyers are unjustified. In the “Breaking Dawn” films, several people of color are hosted by the Cullen’s as part of their international vampire army. 

She also shows diversity in her inclusion of Jacob Black’s Native American Quileute community throughout the series — we’ll get to that later.

But Hardwicke didn’t even need to accuse Meyers of playing racial favorites when it came to her characters — Meyers did that all by herself. 

Meyers’ vampires may be influenced by old Mormom teachings.

Meyers has acknowledged that her faith as a Latter-Day Saint — often referred to as Mormon, though the Church discourages that word — influences her work.

It appears some of the Church’s older, racist teachings may have weaved their way into Meyers writing. 

Meyers published, “The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide” in 2015 as a handbook detailing the world of vampires. In it, she does not mince her words when it comes to her character’s racial appearance. 

She writes that vampire venom “bleaches all pigment from the skin as it changes the human skin into the more indestructible vampire form.” White = indestructible. Ok, Meyers. 

“Regardless of original ethnicity, a vampire’s skin will be exceptionally pale,” she continues, adding that darker skin tones may turn olive-toned but will not be dark. 

The approach to skin tone is evocative of early Mormon teachings, often espoused by founder Joseph Smith. Smith supposedly believed in the idea of “racial redemption” for people of color by converting to the Mormon faith. 

Later, Brigham Young would teach Mormon followers the racist folk belief that Black people are descended from Cain, a Biblical figure cursed for murdering his brother. 

When read alongside these teachings, Meyers’ bleaching of pigmented skin to create some heavenly, pale vampire figure takes on a whole new meaning. 

Racial discrimination issues that existed in Mormonism, in the era from which Meyers draws influence, must be acknowledged in their historical context. 

Racism was prolific across society in this era and was in no way exclusive to the Mormon Church. 

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‘Twilight’ may be an allegory for Mormonism.

It must also be kept in mind that, in the book series, Carlisle Cullen was born in the 1660s. He formed his vision to save human lives rather than take them in a period where historic Mormonism was spreading in Europe. 

Carlisle took up medical practice in the 1840s, the same time as Joseph Smith’s “restoration” of the gospel in America. 

His enlightened vision is a challenge to the original order of ancient Italian vampires, the Volturi, who are barely disguised as symbols of the Catholic Church in the book. 

That Meyers bases her book on some of the racism in Mormon history should be no surprise given the Church’s obvious influence over her plot. 

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Native American characters are associated with racist tropes in ‘Twilight.’

The Cullens, so often described with heavenly imagery, capitalize on the well-established association between white and good. 

So, in Meyers’ world, it seems only fitting that the Cullen’s find mortal enemies in some of the few people of color in the movie — the Quileute werewolf pack. 

The “Twilight” movies were once praised for casting indigenous actors to play these Native American characters and not over-using harmful tropes. 

But even these allowances only thinly veil Meyers’ discriminatory depiction of the Native community. 

Edward symbolises whiteness and Jacob, by juxtaposition, is anything but. He has dark hair, copper skin, brown eyes. Even his last name — Black — distances him from any association with lightness. 

Jacob is the antagonist in Edward’s life and though he isn’t necessarily evil, he is certainly there to disrupt Edward and Bella’s love story. 

Then there is the fact that Meyers makes Black and his fellow characters of color a community descendant from human-animal hybrids who transform into werewolves. 

Jacob, with all his dark associations, is a character whose entire purpose is to prevent Bella from achieving the vampire redemption she so craves. 

He ultimately fails, however, and Edward gives Bella the ultimate gift — immortality as a heavenly, pale vampire. Just as Meyers wanted. 

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Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.