So About This Shortage of Black Actresses….there isn’t one.
Which is why I cannot for the life of me understand why Zoe Saldana was tapped to play QUEEN NINA SIMONE in her upcoming biopic or why The Hollywood Reporter decided ignorantly or audaciously (or both), with the unmitigated gall to release their annual THR Actresses Roundtable dressed in nothing but mayonnaise. I can’t.
With everyone talking about how great it was to be a Black actress in 2013 and how great it was for Black actresses in 2013, I somehow foolishly thought we’d progressed a bit more than this. Don’t get me wrong, I am very well aware of how much further we have to go, that’s why I started The Visibility Project.
But after the hoopla last year surrounding diversity in media I have a hard time believing that at the very least no one in these folks’ PR departments are saying, “Hey. So. Maybe blackface isn’t the best idea.” Or, “So hey, I was thinking, you don’t think we should…maybe….I don’t know….include like…one person of color this year?”
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not asking for appeasement. I don’t need The Oscars to throw us a bone every 8-10 years to pacify or placate us, or increase the number of nominations every few years so we don’t get too loud or for The Hollywood Reporter to throw some random person of color in the roundtable just to fill a quota.
I just need them to stop insulting our intelligence. The, “There just aren’t any/enough (insert marginalized, overlooked, pushed aside group here),” or “These were just the best options,” rebuttals can be kept. The excuses we keep getting about PoC and other marginalized (I swear I hate the word minority now) folks not supporting certain projects, or there being no audience for women comic heroes or Black leads in non “race themed” productions are no longer acceptable. Actually it hasn’t been for quite some time now.
This frustration only grows as a virtual list of better suitable (in talent and resemblance) actresses rolls through my head: Adepero Oduye, Viola Davis, Regina King, Nadine Ellis, Jerrika Hinton, Nicole Beharie, Naturi Naughton, Yaani King, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Teyonah Parris, Condola Rashad, Jennifer Hudson, Yaya Alafia, Nicki Micheaux, Anika Noni Rose, Audra McDonald, Brandy Norwood and Rutina Wesley to name a few. Then there’s Lorraine Toussaint, Whoopi Goldberg, Alfre Woodard, Angela Bassett, Phylicia Rashad and Oprah Winfrey if we’re talking about older actresses. Also, I know that the resemblance isn’t really there but can I throw my boo, Tika Sumpter in there just ‘cause? Cause reasons.
I mean have you seen Adepero Oduye werk?!
Equally infuriating is THR’s decision to exclude actresses of color from this year’s roundtable. I’m not going to mince my words or use politically correct language and say actresses of color were overlooked. You can’t convince me of that. And even if that were true, that’s equally as bad if not worse. But don’t we expect that from the defaulters?
A lot of folks are saying some version of, “no shade to Zoe but…” No. No passes. At some point you have to be held responsible for the decisions you make in your career and that includes choosing and accepting certain roles. At some point you need to know better, then do better. By all means maintain creative autonomy – just understand what that means.
There still isn’t a huge volume of roles for Black actors to choose from and even less for Non-Black actors of color so I get it – to a certain degree. As veteran actor Russell Hornsby pointed out last yearin an interview about this very topic, that excuse – the idea of just being “happy to be in the game,” isn’t acceptable anymore. “We’re savvier as a people,“ Hornsby said.
It gets worse. And maybe worst of all, are the Black people and other PoC who don’t see anything wrong with this. The folks who don’t see that this speaks to larger issues of racism and colorism and privilege and power when a Black actress’ darker skin and wider nose aren’t even good enough to play a Black icon with darker skin and a wider nose. A Black icon whose career and voice was spent speaking out and battling these very issues!
Jesus fix it!
In the meantime, while the mayonnaise manufacturers are getting their lives together, I’m going to… | KEEP READING HERE