Crabs-In-A-Barrel Drama: Why I’m Disappointed In “Hollywood Divas”
I thought I had really sworn off ratchet reality TV, but something about seeing famous (or in some cases, semi-famous) Black women come together to create something piqued my interest enough to make me tune into “Hollywood Divas.” Featuring Paula Jai Parker, Golden Brooks, Countess Vaughn, Elise Neal and Lisa Wu, “Hollywood Divas” is a close sister-friend of “R&B Divas.” What I mean by that is, has-been or struggling celebrities of a certain craft come together to become relevant again, constantly listing their credits to validate their current staked claim (READ: struggle).
I’m not sure if I was wrong for expecting a bit more (this IS reality tv), but I was all kinds of confused and disappointed by the rollout of the episodes and the catty/shady behavior of the women on-screen. In my mind, if I’m a struggling actress trying to get my name on somebody’s marquee or credits, I’d come into a collaborative situation with my game face on and my pettiness tucked clean away.
These women don’t think like I do, apparently.
The first two episodes jumped off with tears, fake high-pitched greetings, half-hugs, shade and catty backhanded compliments. One thing that struck me in particular as crazy with a capital C is the fact that Golden Brooks, best known for her role as ‘Maya Wilkes’ on Mara Brock Akil’s groundbreaking show “Girlfriends,” spent every waking moment shading reality stars and blaming them for the reason that “theater-trained” actors with a “certain pedigree” couldn’t get work.
Um, you’re on a reality show now, boo.
She also stated that in order to get work nowadays, actors have to be active on social media with millions of followers. To say that I was annoyed and that I highly disagreed would be the understatement of the year. There are so many examples of actresses, BLACK actresses, who have made it – in RECENT years – based off of their talent and strategic choices in roles not their standing on social media.
Viola Davis, a newcomer to Twitter, gained acclaim because of her work in recent movies like The Help and now her incomparable work as the mysterious and driven Annalise Keating in ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder.” Her Twitter followers are climbing, but it’s not because she’s so active online. It’s her talent.
Though she boasts 1.8 million followers on Twitter, Kerry Washington was on the map before she ever became active on social networks. Having masterfully portrayed Ray Charles’s wife, a former Black Panther, Kay Amin, a slave woman and now political pistol Olivia Pope, she has garnered a fanbase. This fanbase comes not because of selfies and tweets, but because she has put in the work and taken on roles that align with her values and trajectory.
“Soul Food” actress, Nicole Ari Parker, spoke candidly at last year’s Woman Thou Art Loosed “Girl Talk” segment about hearing a thousand nos before hearing the yes’ that have helped her have success.
The bitterness and jealousy seen within the first few episodes of this show has left a bad taste in my mouth, but I’m still hoping for the best. We, as Black women, already have it tough without blaming one another for what we lack. There is room for all of us to shine, we just have to get in where we fit in and be resilient.
I’m hoping “Hollywood Divas” will eventually showcase strengthened friendships, uplifting creative projects, and a positive answer to the portrayal of Black women, but I won’t hold my breath. However, it’s still early, so we shall see…
La Truly is a writer, higher education professional, and young women’s empowerment enthusiast. She mixes her interest in social and cultural issues with her life experiences to encourage thought, discussion and positive change among young Women of Color. Follow her on Twitter: @ashleylatruly and check out her site: www.ashleyjh.com.