Thursday, December 06, 2007

Top Ten: Black Actresses

tuesday top ten. for the listlover in you and the listmaker in me
yes, I'm aware it's thursday


A reader sent me this interesting snippet of Essence's December feature on Hollywood's black actresses and their unique career issues. It's a minefield of a topic and for more reasons than just race. There's also the combustible issues of gender inequality in acting careers (no matter your skin color) and then there's the fun sticks of dynamite I like to call 'Generic Celebrity Entitlement.' (hereafter referred to as GenCelEnt)

To explain. Features on the troubled careers of actors always walk a tightrope between generating valuable discussion of the issues at hand and snarky dismissal along the lines of 'Let me get this straight: You're complaining.' Chances are there are tens of thousands of young actors (of various colors, persuasions and genders) who would trade places with the employed covergirls here: Nia Long, Sanaa Lathan and Gabrielle Union. These three may not have their dream careers but they make their living from acting which automatically puts them in the top 10 percentile of their profession, doesn't it?

Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this and it is a topic worth hashing out. I also checked out this trailer to a documentary about black actresses called Angels Can't Help But Laugh which I'm already willing to love in the hopes that it will be as richly hilarious and rewatchable as its white girl counterpart Searching For Debra Winger (a must see of the highest order, particularly for actressexuals and folks who enjoy the double edged sword delights of GenCelEnt... 'you're complaining and also: good point')

The topic of black actresses always makes me long for the lean muscle and forcefully clipped dramatic annunciations of one Angela Bassett, who I fell madly in fandom with in the early 90s only to realize that her ascendance was also her finale. How does that happen? The beginning is not the end --that's not how things are supposed to work! She falls into the exact same age and talent bracket as Annette Bening and Holly Hunter and she is nowhere to be seen damn-you-Hollywood! So the following list is dedicated to her. It is not dedicated to Halle Berry who has somehow become the most successful black actress ever despite not being half as interesting as the ones who came before her or many of those struggling to unseat her from her throne. Anyway...


10 Black Actresses I Wish Had Bigger Careers

10 Anika Noni Rose
From her good sportsman participation in the dreadful From Justin to Kelly (my torturous recap) to her outstanding TONY winning 'children are our future' hope in Caroline or Change on Broadway to her chipper girlgroup backup in Dreamgirls, she brings infectious joy to her material.
Soon: The voice of a Disney heroine in Princess and the Frog

<--- 09 Regina King
It perturbs me that I get unwelcome unfunny flashes of Miss Congenality 2 lately when I think of her (I watched it on a plane or something in a fit of buddy comedy masochism? What was I thinking?) but she can't be blamed. When she gets saleable material --like that potent "hit the road Jack" scene in Ray or basically everything about her good natured matchmaker in Year of the Dog, she knows just what to do with it.

08 Naomie Harris
See previous post for Naomie props

---> 07 Hazelle Goodman
I enjoyed her very brief roles in Hannibal (freaky) and Deconstructing Harry (cookie) and I'm always rooting for strong stage personalities to make it in the cinema.

06
April Grace
I know she's made a living with television gigs, hell, in preparing this list I realized that TV has plentiful opportunities for black actresses even if the great roles are still missing. April is even playing "TV Personality" in the upcoming I Am Legend. (oops, typecasting) but after her sensational head-to-head with Tom Cruise in Magnolia (also as a television personality) --not everyone can survive let alone resonate in scenes with megawatt performers-- how is it that no other filmmakers have thought to capitalize on her steel? Are they blind?

05 Tonya Pinkins
You've just seen her as a near divorcee in Enchanted (the one with the sparkly eyes, Enchanted discussion here) but really. That's beneath her. I'll just say this. Her star turn in Caroline or Change on Broadway is among the best performances I've ever seen. In any medium. If some A list director ever handed her a movie version of same, an Oscar nomination would follow. But considering how shabbily Hollywood treats musical talent, I'm sure they'd replace her with someone who can't sing who is already a "name". What a world.


04 Audra McDonald
Another Broadway diva. She's a four time TONY winner. That's right. At the relatively young age of 37 she's in second place for most TONY awards ever. She's like the Kate Winslet of stage (only Kate hasn't won any Oscars yet), racking up nominations consistently while still young. Audra is raising her profile (and presumably bank account) as a regular on Private Practice but it's hard for me not to feel like it's a waste. How will she have time for Broadway? I mean, have you heard her sing? She's not just any actor with musical ability --her vocal and theatrical talents have landed her comparisons to legends like Barbra Streisand. Someone cast her in a musical right now.

03 Gabrielle Union
Sometimes I am in wary awe of her like T-t-t-t-t-orrance was in Bring It On but I should probably see more of her movies. My bad.

02 Viola Davis
How do you have a year like Viola Davis had in 2002 where she gifted audiences with a rich trinity of supporting performances in Antwone Fisher, Far From heaven and Solaris (I gave her a gold medal for this triple triumph) and NOT be swimming in Hollywood offers therafter?

---> 01 Kerry Washington
She rules. That is all. If you read this site regularly you already know of my love (and proprietary claims --I saw her first! I even gave her a prize in 2001)
*

67 comments:

Tera said...

Change Gabrielle with Taraji P. Henson, add Alfre Woodard somewhere and that's a great list.


I am a Black Woman and I do agree that there are other minorities that don't have the same opportunities as Black Actresses.

1.Asian Americans Actresses and Actors.
2. Overweight women
3.Women who are percieved to be unattractive.
4. Gays & Lesbians
5. Older women.

The list goes on & on.


Still, Black women haven't made it as far as Black Men in Hollywood. I hope it gets better for everyone.

NATHANIEL R said...

i love Alfre Woodard but she has had such an enduring career that i thought i should give some love to others

Tera said...

Okay, you get a pass.lol.

Kurtis11 said...

I love that you put Kerry Washington on top, and against my better judgment, I was afraid I might see Zoe Saldana on the list. I'm getting so sick of her (albeit gorgeous) face! I think she signed up for every ad campaign out there. Open a mag - you'll find her.
PS: No Ang. Bassett? I know she hasn't been doing much lately, but isn't she like, default?

Luis Manuel said...

Where's my girl Thandie Newton?

NATHANIEL R said...

kurtis tsktsk... are you just skimming. I dedicated the whole list to her!

NATHANIEL R said...

i'm agnostic on Thandie. I can never decide if she's a good actor or a bad one... seriously she keeps confusing me

amir_uk said...

...a bad one who needs a good editor to help her out. Every time. Saw her in Selfridges the other week, she has a permanent scowl on her face.

I HEART HALLE! HALLE-LUJAH! HALLE BURNS AS BRIGHT AS A COMET!

Neel Mehta said...

Love Kerry Washington. One decent amount of exposure (preferably as a co-lead in an otherwise "white" film) and she'll replace Halle Berry in casting directors' minds.

(Oh, and I don't mean "exposure" in the Swordfish sense.)

amir_uk said...

HALLEHOLICS UNITE!

Liza said...

I think the problem is in order to get the better and/or mainstream roles available for Black Actresses in Hollywood, you have to be a pop star (ex. Alicia Keys in Smoking Aces and The Nanny Diaries, Beyonce in Austin Powers, Dreamgirls). The problem is for every Queen Latifah or Jennifer Hudson there is a non-talented one that is just in it for money or more fame. Or you have Beyonce who goes around saying she wants to be the first black woman to win an oscar, tony and grammy without even checking her facts first (Whoopi Goldberg already did that)

Anonymous said...

I don't even remember her name, but I loved the mother of Ray. I'd trade all the nominations the movie got for hers.

Must love Thandie Newton in Bertolucci's Besieged.

-cal roth

Liza said...

I also think Victoria Rowell is a great actress but up until now has been stuck doing Daytime work. She starred opposite Samuel L Jackson in Home of the Brave and there were rumors that Kerry Washington would play her in the a film version of her book.

Kurtis11 said...

Wow...I definiteley was skimming...I just went back now, and missed a few other big things as well...how embarassing!
PS: I felt Thandie had some good moments in "Crash" (and none of them were in cars, by the way...)

Cengiz said...

LOVE the Broadway vets in there. Anika, Tonya and Audra. But what about S. Epatha Merkerson? She's a cut above the rest

StinkyLulu said...

Like Cal Roth, I loved Sharon Warren of Ray, and am dismayed that she's been seen so little since her incredible work in that film rife with brilliant African American supporting actressness. (I have been in awe of the incredible Aunjanue Ellis for more than 20 years now; I'm agnostic but impressed with Kerry Washington; and Regina King's been sweeping up the mess in all kinds of good and bad films for years.)

I'm sad that LisaGay Hamilton's not on this list.

I'm firmly of the mind that black women get hit with the 40-stick with particular cruelty (though Philicia Rashad seems to be charting some new territory in her own strange way). I actually have worried about Regina King and Kerry Washington and "The Cicily Tyson Syndrome" -- seemingly indispensable one minute, entirely illegible the next...

I could go on...and on...

Thanks, Nat, for the attention both to the topic and to flagging the Essence piece.

Tera said...

ex. Alicia Keys in Smoking Aces and The Nanny Diaries, Beyonce in Austin Powers, Dreamgirls.
__________________________________

With the exception of Deena Jones are these really decent roles?

There are some decent roles coming up.

Mrs. Muller in Doubt. I heard that they were expanding the role for the film.

Rosaleen, June, August & May in the Secret Life of Bees (filming starts in January). I heard Dakota Fanning is starring.

Precious Jones in Push (Novel about an overweight illiterate Black teen who is abused by her mother. A Black female teacher inspires and helps her.) I think this one is already filming.

Then there's Taraji in the Curious Case of Benjamin Button (I heard that Taraji & Cate Blanchett have the biggest female roles in the film). Director is David Fincher (I love him).

Kerry Washington -Life is Hot in Cracktown ( Buddy Giovinnazo is directing he is also the author of the novel) & Lakeview Terrace ( Sam Jackson terrorizes an Interracial couple. Hits theatres in September).

The Lena Baker story with Tichina Arnold. Summary: A chronicle of the life of Lena Baker, the first woman to be sent to the electric chair in Georgia for the murder of her employer, who forced her into sexual slavery.


Angela Bassett- Meet the Browns ( I really don't like Tyler Perry's films), Gospel Hill ( with Nia Long & Julia Styles), Of Boys & Men ( Will this get released?) and a supporting role in Nothing but the Truth.

Sanaa Lathan has a Wonderful World with Matthew Broderick. She's co-lead.

Kimberly Elise stars in Red Soil next year.

Summary of Red Soil
Julia retired nursing officer takes a nursing position on a cocoa plantation in West Africa.

Jhud-Winged Creatures & Sex & the City. She's supporting in both. Rumored to be in consideration for the Aretha Franklin Biopic & The Secret Life of Bees( She's too young for any of the women roles in that film). I like Jennifer, but she could improve on her acting. We'll see how she does.

I don't know how any of these films will do commercially or critically, but they seem like decent roles.

liza said...

I said better AND/OR mainstream roles not that they were all better

mr ripley said...

cani just say halle b was good in things we lost in the fire
do we think hunter stole bassetts oscar in 93 and her ferocity in waiting to exhale's chucking clothes out scene is great she need to have a resurrection doubt is her role.

adam k. said...

I really think that on a subconscious level, a lot of why Halle Berry is the most famous is cause she's only half black and hence looks more white. And has more caucasianish features. Well, that and that she's beautiful in general, and sexual, and of course sex sells.

But Kerry Washington has all of the beauty and none of that slutty vibe, and more talent, so one really must wonder why nothing's happening with her.

I'm STILL mad that Angela Bassett didn't get to play Storm in X-Men. She would have been PERFECTION. Faded dreams her along with of Julianne as Jean Grey and Michelle as Emma Frost will linger in my mind.

And why do black actresses get hit so hard with the 40 stick when they generally look 10 years younger than their white counterparts? I don't get it. Black actresses age beautifully, almost without exception - it's just a biological fact - yet they disappear when they get old.

I'm very curious to see who they cast in the Doubt role.

adam k. said...

Oh, and I will forever love Regina King in Jerry Maguire. She even makes Cuba's oscar (in retrospect) less embarrassing.

lawyer tony fernando said...

well ,a black actress news related, but still of-topic, Queen Latifah is still in the closet, actually Jodie Foster managed to stay and get out of the closet at the same time. Tricky isn´t? ( I know my typing is like sh**) here are the links:
http://www.baywindows.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=blog&sc2=news&sc3=&id=53332
http://community.livejournal.com/ohnotheydidnt/18170850.html#cutid1

CanadianKen said...

Let's credit Viola Davis with a quadruple triumph in 2002. I first discovered her that year on a memorable episode of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent". The segment was called "The Badge". And she played a cop who was also a single mother trying to raise two small daughters. A fantastic performance!

Elias said...

I love how you put Audra up there!! But she is still doing Broadway, she was rockin' in '110 In the Shade' this past year.

And an alternate I think needs to be put up there is LaChanze (Broadway's 'The Color Purple', 'Sex and the City's' -"Get your little white pussy away from my brother). She's amazing!

Andy Scott said...

I can always count on you for a good Kerry Washington lovefest. :love:

Sammy Jo said...

Yes, yes...Kerry Washington! My number one as well.

Also, agree that I would love Alfre Woodard on this list, and that Sharon Warren was the best thing in Ray.

Also, Sophie O. ( I can't spell her last name ) from Hotel Rwanda...was she on your list? I don't remember seeing her name.

Jamesofthe1000Days said...

I think Kerry Washington deserves more work, to me she is lots better than that uneven Thandie Newton. I actually prefer Kerry over Halle.

c.p. iñor said...

Aside of your Top Ten, I think Loretta Devine and Mariane Jean-Baptiste deserve better and bigger careers on film.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED Sharon Warren in Ray - she was the best thing about the movie for me (with Regina King a close second) and I really wanted to see her get an Oscar nom for Best Supporting that year. Not that I thought it would happen, not with Jamie Foxx's showboating taking all the attention (undeservedly).

My impression (as a white woman btw) is that Hollywood takes a "we'll let ONE of you through the gate at a time" approach to black actresses. As if more than one black woman getting major roles would just blow everyone's minds - and we can't have that now, can we?

RedSatinDoll

Scott said...

As to your list I'll second Ms. Goodman. Given her command of the screen (I liked her best as Georgia Rae on Homicide) it's interesting she hasn't gotten more parts.

As to the names others have listed let me second S. Epatha Merkerson. I really like her.

RC said...

good list, especially in a year that doesn't seem to provide many opportunities for the black actress.

I'd love to see Tawny Cypress get a good big screen role.

Good call on April Grace as well!

Kamikaze Camel said...

"Faded dreams her along with of Julianne as Jean Grey"

No way, Famke was great.

I really love Loretta Devine, S Epatha Merkerson, Marianne Jean Baptiste and Zoe Saldana (I guess we're not inundated with her in advertising campaigns down here) and of those on the list Viola David (who also had an amazing cameo in last year's World Trade Center), Kerry and Gabriel.

But my favourite from the list is indeed Naomie Harris.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Oh, and Alfre Woodard too, but that while Betty Applewhite saga was really awful.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering about Doubt too, it starts next week. I would pick Viola or Angela.

For the Secret Life of Bees

August-Alfre Woodard
May-Viola
June-Angela Bassett
Rosaleen-Loretta Devine

I agree with Tera, Jhud is way too young for those roles. The characters are in their 50s.

I like Shareeka Epps from half Nelson.

adam k. said...

Well, Julianne would've made it an entirely different movie (as would the others). Famke was fine with the action stuff... but I wanted deep, high drama.

Also it bothered me that she was taller and also like 10 years older than James Marsden. That was just not right. And neither of them were SO right for their roles that it was excusable.

But I wanted Julianne and Patrick Wilson, which is kinda the same thing. Except for the height thing... which REALLY irked.

Luke said...

Sophie Okonedo. Unforgettably awesome in the very underrated Dirty Pretty Things; Oscar-nominated for Hotel Rwanda; nothing noteworthy afterwards. I want to hear that sexy voice (in a good movie) again!

mattrett said...

I'm not sure I'd put Angela Bassett in that talent pool. I think What's Love Got To Do With It is a pretty silly biopic, looking back at it, and I have not seen her be very good in anything since. Black women are held back (as are black men, to some extent) because studio execs are not interested in gambling, and in their minds, it's a gamble, a leap of faith, a high-minded action to greenlight a movie with a black lead or black leads because they know for a fact that a lot of white people will say, "Oh, that's so...black for me." (Someone said this, out loud, to me recently about Dreamgirls. "With black movies, they just have to make EVERYONE in it black, so I liiiked it, but..." !!!) But black men at least have the option of starring in generic action and buddy and comedy movies since those are all MALE-driven, and even if a black man is black, he's still a man. It's a low-down dirty shame.

NATHANIEL R said...

that it is.

and while i know Bassett doesn't have the filmography to back up that she's as good as Hunter and Bening and her other peers, I'm assuming she would if they had given her real opportunities. I thought she was super in Waiting to Exhale and WLGTDWI and i liked her recently in sunshine state. But yes, the roles haven't been there.

It's really difficult to tell how much range actresses have if nobody is giving them opportunities to test it. Really only Halle Berry has been given ample room to show what she can do.

Slapstick G. McManis said...

Considering that I just saw "This Christmas" last night -- featuring three of my faves, Loretta Devine, Regina King, and Sharon Leal -- there couldn't be a more appropriated discussion on which to join in.

With the exception of calling Angela Bassett talentless, mattrett hit the nail on the head with his comments. Black actresses can either get large roles in all-or-predominantly-black fare or miniscule roles in more mainstream films, neither or which is THE ideal circumstance. And the problem I have with the industry is that no one seems to want to capitalize on a black actress's breakthrough moment to the extent that their willing to do so for a white counterpart, which is why Kerry Washington can go from exceptional work in "Save the Last Dance" and "Ray" to blind girlfriend/throw-away part in "Fantastic Four." Meanwhile ScarJo is on her 35th movie in four years.

Anonymous said...

Taraji P. Henson should have been on this list too. She was incredible in "Hustle & Flow" and "Talk to Me", and though she's being wasted in television dreck like "Boston Legal", I guess that employment is better than nothing. She still needs that mainstream moment to catapult into something better for her career.

The triumvirate of Sharon Warren, Aunjanue Ellis, and Regina King was a great sight in "Ray", and I hoped that all three of them would have capitalized on the exposure better than what they did. Sharon Warren virtually dropped off of the planet, Ellis followed up with the disaster "E-Ring", and only Kerry Washington has managed to still do some interesting work here and there but still no real breakout (though she was great in "The Last King of Scotland").

It's terrible how Hollywood seems to have no place for Angela Bassett. I won't knock Halle Berry any here, b/c I love her and think that she gets unfairly knocked time and time again when she shouldn't be, but there's a place for many different kinds of black actresses out there. It's a combination of a lack of vision with casting directors and lack of substantive material for black performers that's the real problem.

Anonymous said...

It's really difficult to tell how much range actresses have if nobody is giving them opportunities to test it. Really only Halle Berry has been given ample room to show what she can do.
___________________________________

You hit the nail on the head. For someone like Gabrielle, I can't really tell if she is a good actress or not. I liked her in Bring it on, but in her other films she plays virtually the same character.

For upcoming Black Actresses I like Sharon Warren, Sharon Leal & Paula Patton.

I think Paula may be the only one that can breakthrough because she has the Halle factor. She looks like a younger version of Halle Berry ( I don't know if Paula is mixed or not, to be honest).

Another example of ( well not Black women) is Parmindar Nagra. Parmindar & Keira Knightley both had their breakthrough with Bend it Like Beckham. Now look at their careers. I don't have a problem with Keira , but why isn't Parmindar getting roles? Because there are virtually NO roles for her in Hollywood. Not even the less than decent roles that Black women receive.

I agree with many posters that suggests that studios don't want to take a gamble on people of color, particularly women. With the success of Tyler Perry Movies & This Christmas maybe that'll change, but I don't know if that will put them in the public eye.

Unfortunately ,like someone said before, it will have to take a "white" film to put someone in the public eye. Like Queen Latifah in Chicago or instead of Anne Hathaway in the Devil Wears Prada put Kerry Washington there instead.

I mean more people know about Naomie Harris after Pirates.

Anonymous said...

Taraji P. Henson should have been on this list too. She was incredible in "Hustle & Flow" and "Talk to Me", and though she's being wasted in television dreck like "Boston Legal", I guess that employment is better than nothing. She still needs that mainstream moment to catapult into something better for her career.

__________________________________

Taraji P. Henson is going to be in The Benjamin Button Movie next year with Brad Pitt & Cate Blanchett. She has a supporting role. I don't know how mainstream this will be or how they will market it ( hopefully not like Jesse James), but maybe it will put her in the public eye.

NATHANIEL R said...

Yeah, she probably should have been. I also forgot to mention a great site called MAHOGANY CAFE which has tons of tributes to black actresses.

Anonymous said...

" 'Let me get this straight: You're complaining.' Chances are there are tens of thousands of young actors (of various colors, persuasions and genders) who would trade places with the employed covergirls here"

So? If they don't complain or say anything nothing will be done! Yes these girl are very blessed with the careers but it must be hard seeing these people greenlight films and they can't!

Anonymous said...

Think of the actresses in the youth age group: Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, Emmy Rossum, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Evan Rachel Wood, Abbie Cornish, Emily Blunt, Eva Green, Kirsten Dunst...

The Black Girls...Meagan Good, Lauren London, Jennifer Hudson...

NATHANIEL R said...

well anonymous like i said in the article (you gotta read the whole thing rather than skimming) when stars complain it usually provokes two simultaneous reactions. That's just one of them. The other reaction is "good point"

Anonymous said...

I did read the entire thing. I just wanted to point that out.

Anonymous said...

Well, I would put Jurnee Smollett & Megan Good along with Christina Ricci & Kirsten Dunst. Since all four of them have been acting since they were children. I thought Jurnee & Megan did well in Eve's Bayou.


No comment on the Lauren London mention.

Tera said...

Anonymous, he's not saying that they shouldn't complain he's just pointing out the reactions ( both sides) to them complaining. I mean how many Asian AMERICAN Actresses do you know besides Lucy Lui? Just saying.


Lauren London have only been in two movies. I mean isn't she a model. There are far more talented younger actresses you could have mentioned besides her. Keke Palmer & Shareeka Eppes come to mind.

Tera said...

Anonymous, he's not saying that they shouldn't complain he's just pointing out the reactions ( both sides) to them complaining. I mean how many Asian AMERICAN Actresses do you know besides Lucy Lui? Just saying.


Lauren London have only been in two movies. I mean isn't she a model. There are far more talented younger actresses you could have mentioned besides her. Keke Palmer , Shareeka Epps & Jurnee Smollett come to mind.

Anonymous said...

Tera I know that's what he's saying and I was not trying to start an argument. I was just giving an example. And the list I gave wasn't necessarily "talented" actresses (See Alba and Biel) But actresses between the 20 & 26 age group that are top billing films or have leading roles in films (which is why didn't include the wonderful Keke, Shareeka or Kerry)

By the way, I'm surprised no one mentioned how great Sanaa Lathan. She was Tony nominated for A Raisin In The Sun and was great in Love & Basketball and Something New

Tera said...

I see.

Off-topic a bit, I've seen so many people complain about Keira Knightley, but I like Keira. I mean compared to Jessica Biel & Jessica Alba, Keira is an acting God. lol

Kamikaze Camel said...

Oh man, how could I forget Sophie Okonedo. She was so good in Dirty Pretty Things.

I have a thing for African-British actresses, I must say. Okonedo and Jean-Baptiste especially.

Another actress nobody has mentioned is CCH Pounder who I have liked in several things. Three time Emmy nominee proves what Nat said about there being more television opportunities for black actors than there is film.

Anonymous said...

Jurnee Smollett is supposedly really good in "The Great Debaters". It'll be nice to see her act again, and maybe she can start fulfilling some of that early promise that she had from "Eve's Bayou".

Can't believe I forgot about Shareeka Epps! Opportunities like "Half Nelson" don't come along everyday for actresses of any color, but for a black actress, that was a rare gift, and she nailed it. Hollywood will never know what to do with her, b/c she doesn't fit the beauty mold that she's supposed to, but all the same, I wish her all the best. She deserves so much more than an "Alien vs. Predator" film. :(

amir_uk said...

"African-British" that sounds so funny! People just black here; it doesn't work like African-American, as so many black people here aren't necessarily from Africa.

Sophie Okonedo is excellent though - fully deserving of that Oscar nom and one of the country's finest Shakespearean actresses. She's done a lot of great stage work with the RSC, including being in the original cast of Derek Walcott's sublime The Odyssey (1993).

She's been round my house too - she's stepmum to my sister-in-law's best friend's daughter, if that makes sense!

Kamikaze Camel said...

I'll take that on board about black british actors. I just assumed. And it's tricky to know when to use the term "black" or not.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I should add that Australia doesn't exactly have a large African population so it's not part of our culture. Hence I feel uneasy and unsure of using the term black. I never know if Americans or African-Americans or whoever is going to get offended.

NATHANIEL R said...

hell, glenn, i live in Harlem and I'm also unsure of what to say from time to time. It's always a touchy topic. But it does bug me when Americans use it as an all purpose phrase --when black actresses who aren't from the states get nominated for Oscars for example. Sophie Okonedo and Marianne Jean Baptiste being referred to as "african american nominees" is SO annoying. They aren't american, they're black.

and "african american" also applies to Charlize Theron, you know, so it's a strange term.

Keyshia said...

I'm Black & I honestly don't think a lot of people care. Black or African-American is fine. Obviously if they're not American you use Black.

Kerry Washington is love. I also like Chandra Wilson from Grey's Anatomy.

Cynthia said...

There is one solution that may be tricky for Black Actresses...start producing films!Halle Berry has done it with "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" and "Lakawanna Blues". Meagan Good has produced a independent film she starred in called "Mile From Home" at only 24 years old and is moving on to her next indie "Sundays In Fort Greene". I could see Angela Bassett buying the rights and starring in a popular novel (She's already starred in two by Terry Mcmillan, "Waiting to Exhale" and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"). Halle Berry's bought the rights to "Nappily Ever After" and plans to star in it (She has to shave her head bald). Queen Latifah produces too. Sanaa Lathan around a year ago was talking about developing a feature but the way she sounded about it made it seem like she wasn't putting enough initiative into it. There's probably dozens of talented unknown writers who are dying to have these ladies bring their characters to life. If they go to a somewhere like Screen Gems, Focus Features or Lion's Gate and ask for like a 3-6 million dollar budget. They could be able to get backing. They're big enough stars to have a fan base. And if not, make it artsy enough to get into Sundance (I mean if stuff like Southland Tales and Dedication can get in and Love & Basketball was a Sundance entry I think). Also maybe they could make shorts that could shown before features like "Hotel Chevalier". I could see a 10 minute short starring Joy Bryant airing before a Tyler Perry film. What do you all think?

Anonymous: I like Sanaa too. She was fabolous in "A Raisin In The Sun" (Here's to crossing my fingers for an emmy nomination for the TV adaptation?). She also was great in Nip/Tuck although I saw that she got a lot of flack from fans on the show because of her race on the message boards.

Cynthia said...

I also think that it must be frustrating because a lot of these girls from the "golden group" as I like to call them (girls in the that early and mid 20 age-range that anonymous pointed out) are starring in a lot of period pieces:

Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson are playing Anne and Mary Boleyn.

Scarlett is also playing Mary, Queen of Scots (which I think is a poor choice).

Kirsten Dunst played Marie Antoinette.

And Keira's done every period piece available and is doing The Duchess right now.

When was the last time a studios green lit a period piece with a Black female piece before Dreamgirls ("Beloved?") TV has done it often (particularly HBO) and Halle Berry was in "Their Eyes Were Watching God" on (Which I thought she was very good in. People tend to forget that she has had a good performance in between "Monster's Ball" and "Things We Lost In The Fire" because it was TV.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Kerry Washington and Anika Noni Rose it's between these two for the Elizabeth Taylor role in "Cat on a Hot tin Roof" on broadway starring Terrence Howard.

Anonymous said...

Cynthia, I like that idea too. Meagan Good so much promise in "Eve's Bayou" now she's stuck playing the girlfriend roles in movies. I'm glad she's taking the initiative to put her in good roles.

Slapstick G. McManis said...

Looks like anonymous 1:46 is getting his wish. Viola Davis just joined the cast of "Doubt":

http://www.playbill.com/news/article/113466.html.

Merry Christmas.

Grand Poobah Ayatollah Love Free I said...

So many wonderful actresses mentioned, and so many more to note, I hardly know where to begin. Most of my favourite Black actors are men (hell, a bunch of my favourite actors period are Black men-- Charles S. Dutton, Robert Wisdom, Ving Rhames, Delroy Lindo, Terence Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Mos Def) but there's an astonishing number of incredible Black actresses out there.

I join everyone in genuflecting before Kerry Washington.

I've been waiting and waiting to see Charlayne Woodard in another film since she played Sam Jackson's mother in Unbreakable.

Taraji P. Henson is a goddess, imho. One of the most wonderful things to happen to the movies in a very long time. I can't get enough of her.

Zoe Saldana is such a beautiful creature I can hardly stand it, and is superb within her character's limits in the awful Guess Who. But she needs to prove her bona fides.

I've had my eye on April Grace since she was a highlight of the very affecting lousy movie Finding Forrester.

Alfre Woodard's star appears to be fading. Nowadays I only see her get supporting roles as various sorts of public officials. I miss her.


Salute to whoever's been loving Aunjanue Ellis long time. I've known about Aunjanue since I was a small kid. She's excellent at what she does.

Regina King is something special, and let me also put in a good word for the gorgeous and subtle 'other Regina', Regina Hall.

Halle Berry's celebrity makes me actively angry. She seems like a very nice person but there are few more people more painful to watch act.

Meagan Good is probably the single most beautiful female celebrity I can think of who I don't particularly admire for her acting talent. There are women like Kate Winslet and Laura Linney who can hold a candle and are a bit older, but Meagan probably gets my vote as the single most beautiful actress in her age bracket. I can hardly think straight whenever she's onscreen. Lauren London and Paula Patton have a similar effect on me.

Sanaa, Shareeka, Gabrielle, Kim Elise, S. Epatha, Raven Goodwin, Debi Morgan, Paula Jai Parker, Loretta Devine, Lonette McKee... good heavens, there are dozens. My oh my.

Anonymous said...

Zoe Saldana isn't AfricanAmerican thats why she didnt make the list.

Neytiri said...

I love Alfre Woodard, Angela Bassett & Zoe Saldena!! Kerri Washington rules for sho There is this Upcoming Black Canadian actress that has created quiet a hype after posting on her twitter account that she was cast on Smallville. It turned out to be a small role but she captured my attention. Her name is Mireille Urumuri. And you can view some of her work here
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2988282/
www.mireilleurumuri.com
She is apparently also a model. After seeing this teaser for a film she did : http://www.romanticchildstudios.com/blog/2009/10/short-film/ I fell in love and I think she is one to watch for the next few years. Plus she is not afraid to show her natural hair.