Sunday, September 07, 2008

Anika

Anika Noni Rose has forged such a promising young career playing the fresh & exuberant that I had quite a shock yesterday realizing she'd just turned 36. Perhaps she's like the black Amy Adams, i.e. cute, bubbly, and youthful in persona and appeal only not so newly formed in reality. Age ain't nuthin' but a number.

Let's recap: She survived an awful teenage Spring Break in From Justin to Kelly (my review) @ 31 in keeping with the popularly demeaned Hollywood tradition of casting 30somethings as teenagers (Hello Grease). She won the TONY as the joyful optimistic teen daughter in the otherwise grim (but brilliant) Caroline or Change @ 32. Most famously, she loved & left Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls @ 34... gifting the film with one of its two most potent sung through lines of dialogue. You can guess the other one.

We've talked about the plight of black actresses in Hollywood before --even vibrant ones like Anika can run into brick walls and glass ceilings. The infrastructure for their fame just isn't there. Black superstar actors aren't often screen paired with them (think of Will Smith's onscreen girls), and they usually aren't paired with white actors either. The remaining option then is supporting roles and unless those are head-turning jewels as parts go, they don't make you a big star. Eventually they end up in the ensemble of TV shows. There are certainly worse fates for actors (their names are Unemployment and Obscurity!) but still...

Here's hoping that Anika gets another boost from her starring (voice) role in Disney's 2-D picture The Princess and the Frog in 2009. The teaser doesn't do much to instill faith in the musical adaptation (Randy Newman, again?)...


...but you never know. Disney was once great at making traditional 2-D animation. And they certainly helped to revive the musical. A comeback could theoretically be just around the corner. Anika's got the pipes should they give her anything worth singing about. Will they?
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7 comments:

ryansumera said...

this girl should've gotten jada's part in the remake.

NATHANIEL R said...

are you talking about The Women?

ryansumera said...

yes. she'd be less abrasive.

Elizabeth said...

I can't believe she is that old. I think black actors are a hugely untapped talent resource in Hollywood. I know that it's a television show, but look at The Wire. It has some of the best acting on tv and its cast is mostly African American.

Anonymous said...

CUZ THIS TIME EFFIE WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITES GONNA WIN!

Anonymous said...

I agree about Randy Newman...they should've got Quincy Jones.

NATHANIEL R said...

anon -- you're so right! (effie white winning, i mean)