For Discussion: USA Today Asks “Where Are All The Black Women In Hollywood?”
USA Today Asks Where Are The Black Women In Hollywood?
Brought to you by the same folks who called Best Man Holiday a “racially themed” film
Via USA Today:
Last week marked the beginning of the awards season frenzy, as nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globes were announced. Yet, there was one important group that made a poor showing among the roster of talented nominees: black women. While Oprah Winfrey (The Butler) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) both picked up supporting actress SAG nominations (and Nyong’o grabbed another from the Golden Globes), they are the lone black women on a list of lily-white female film nominees.
In fact, black women are entirely absent in the best actress, best director and best screenplay categories, begging a troubling question: Where are the black women in Hollywood?
“This is always such a tough question for me, because I’m really optimistic about my journey and I can’t really compare my journey to Cameron Diaz’s journey or Reese Witherspoon’s, because we’re not the same,” says Nia Long, whose romantic comedy The Best Man Holiday, which has taken in nearly $68 million at the box office so far. “We’re not considered for the same roles. We’re not paid the same. That’s just the truth.” Even with Scandal star and current “it” girl Kerry Washington peeking out from multiple magazine covers, landing endorsement deals, awards nominations and hosting diversity-challenged Saturday Night Live, Hollywood is hurting when it comes to opportunities for black women. It’s a stark contrast to the music industry, where such performers as Beyoncé, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj have enjoyed major success.
So, why is Hollywood lagging? Oscar nominee Viola Davis says black actresses are “in crisis mode,” with not enough roles to go around and a lack of opportunities for them to showcase their talents. “We’re in deprivation mode, because listen: me, Alfre (Woodard) and Phylicia (Rashad) … we’re in the same category. Whereas if you take a Caucasian actress, you have the ones who are the teens, in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and they’re all different,” Davis said during an episode of Winfrey’s Next Chapter.
“There’s roles for each of them, but when you only have two or three categories for black actresses — you want to work. It’s a natural instinct. If you throw a piece of cheese in a room full of rats, they’re going to claw at each other.” There is some good news for black actresses, though. In addition to Winfrey, Nyong’o and Washington’s nominations, Zoe Saldana has A-list projects, including Avatar 2 and a just-announced role in the Miles Davis biopic opposite Don Cheadle.
On network television, Washington’s hosting gig earned SNL its highest ratings of the season and Scandal continues to be a hit for ABC. Plus, several black actresses have found work this season on new series, including American Horror Story: Coven’s Angela Bassett and Gabourey Sidibe and Sleepy Hollow’s Nicole Behari and Lyndie Greenwood. And, showrunner Mara Brock Akil will launch the new Gabrielle Union-led series Being Mary Jane Jan. 7 on BET.
Some box office watchers seemed shocked by the success of The Best Man Holiday, which gave Marvel’s Thor sequel a run for its money in its opening weekend. But, the film’s home run is simply proof that there is a market of black audiences longing to see their stories on the big screen, Peete says.
Box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian says Hollywood’s approach to reaching black audiences cannot be a one-size-fits-all strategy. “The things that draw African Americans to the multiplex are the same things that draw everybody. Is the movie good? It’s not just create a movie for a particular audience and it’s going to be a hit with that audience.” Above all, there needs to be a more level playing field when it comes to opportunity and access for black women, says Allen.
“The word that we all want is ‘possibility.’ But the word we don’t have enough of is probably ‘opportunity,’ ” she says. “I’m looking at all the young women I’m mentoring and the ones that I have raised. Jada Pinkett Smith is someone who I discovered, who is now a mogul. … It’s about us remembering to network and call upon one another and give opportunity when it’s possible.” When that happens, Peete thinks that roles for black women could go to infinity and beyond — literally.
“That would have been interesting to have George Clooney opposite a Kerry (Washington in Gravity). We have a black female astronaut, so don’t tell me we can’t do that!”
We know this is a tired argument, but what are your thoughts???
Sidenote: Revel in Lupita Nyong’o and of her stunning glory above :-)
Read the article in its entirety HERE.