The White House recently assured fans of ABC’s Lost that the President’s State of the Union will not interfere with the season premiere of the show. The speech by the nation’s first African American president may have conflicted with the time slot for the show which has also been historic in its own roles regarding race.

Mary Beltrán, Associate Professor of Chicano and Latino studies at UW-Madison, says when casting the first season of Lost, which premiered in 2004, staff were so impressed by actors who turned out for the roles that they modified the ethnicity of the characters. An example is the Jorge Garcia who plays Hurley, a character initially not specified to be Latino. Yunjin Kim, who plays Sun, originally auditioned for Kate, a role that which went Caucasian woman. The show handlers were so impressed that they created a special character for her.

Sometimes the show has played it safe according to Beltrán. One example is the character of Jack, a surgeon who was to be killed in the pilot episode while Kate becomes the unofficial leader of the survivors. Beltrán says test audiences and seasoned producers did not like the idea so it is Jack who assumes the helm.

The ABC sci fi drama’s  sixth and final season premiere is Tuesday.

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