Embracing Their Types! Actors Who Play The Same Role Over & Over Again

January 21, 2012  |  
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We know quality roles are hard to come by in Hollywood. We do, we really do. For black actors, you can multiply that reality times 100. So we don’t blame the actors that made our list. They choose to hone their craft, albeit under the limited scope of their typecasted roles. Hey, some actors are so grateful for the hefty paydays that they won’t fight too hard to go outside their comfort zone. In good fun, we’ve highlighted the actors who stay faithful to their types but who we hope to see in other roles (much bigger ones) before the year is over.

We love Jenifer Lewis but she’s played the feisty black mama 10 too many times. She’s so good at being comedic and sassy that producers obviously can’t get enough of her and choose to risk using an actress whose played the same role in so many other black films and television shows. I remember her best as Toni’s mom on Girlfriends and Tina Turner’s mother on What’s Love Got To Do With It. How could she tell on Tina to Ike like that!?

Keith David

We wonder if Keith David gets tired of always playing the shady character. From playing the cold-hearted loan shark in Barbershop to playing the primary villain on The Princess & The Frog (crazy Dr. Facilier), Davis is straight typecasted.  Although he does just as many movies as Samuel L. Jackson each year, the veteran actor hasn’t received as many opportunities to flex his acting skills in bigger roles (as a leading man) for a large audience.

Wood Harris

Although Harris is a graduate of the NYU graduate acting program at the Tisch School of the Arts, somehow he’s gotten funneled into the acting pipeline that so many amateur black actors have worked. His photo on IMDB even shows a picture of Harris aiming a gun. Needless to say, we often see Harris in the role of criminal.  We loved him as Avon Barksdale on The Wire but want him to play more than a drug dealer or “ex-banger” (as seen on Southland).

Clifton Powell

Whose afraid of the big bad wolf? Now, whose afraid of Clifton Powell? The longtime actor is excellent at his job because when he walks onto a set for a scene in a film, it has the effect of mood music – the mood being one of menace.  From Dead Presidents to Woman Thou Art Loosed, Powell is expert at playing dark, creepy characters that linger with us for some time. And crazy ones that we can’t forget too (Remember Pinky from the Friday movies?).

Gabrielle Union

Bless her heart, Union ends up playing many of the same roles because she’s good at playing the typical, everyday, pretty, professional Black girl. Although she’s tried to reach for more dramatic roles in films like Cadillac Records, we think Union should embrace her limited scope and play her career like Jennifer Aniston (aside from Horrible Bosses) and focus on comedies.

Donald Faison

It all began with Clueless. Then it was a done deal for Faison who has since been typecasted as the token black guy/black best friend. He seems to love it however, and we love him too. I mean, his character of Turk on Scrubs made that show! But still…expand my man, expand…

Paula Jai Parker

P stands for Paula. P also stands for the promiscuous characters that Paula has a thing for playing. She had an unforgettable role as a feisty and arrogant prostitute in Hustle & Flow, who quarreled with the man in her life (her pimp that is), DJay. That casting might’ve been inspired by her role in 1997’s Sprung, in which she played Adina: the easy, gold-digging, and sabotaging best friend. The list of questionably promiscuous characters goes on, but she’s already tried to expand her portfolio. She was the mother on The Proud Family!

 

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