All Articles Tagged "black actors"
Good news for New York thespians. According to a new report, minority actors are finding more and more jobs on Broadway. The percentage of minority actors working on the Great White Way and at the top 16 not-for-profit theater companies in New York City rose to 23 percent during the 2011-2012 season, reports The Grio. Still, even with the boost in numbers, white actors on Broadway continue to be over-represented.
Here’s the breakdown: African-American actors were cast in 16 percent of all roles, Hispanics in three percent and Asian-American actors in three percent, found The Asian American Performers Action Coalition in its annual report on ethnic representation on New York stages. Yet Caucasians filled 77 percent of all roles.
“Black actors increased their representation by 2 percent compared to last season, while Hispanics stayed the same as last season, and Asian-Americans saw their numbers tick up by 1 percent,” writes The Grio.
Although the growth has been slow, there has long been an African-Amerian presence on the Great White Way. In 1903 the first Broadway musical written by African Americans, and the first to star African Americans, In Dahomey, hit theaters. Vinnette Justine Carroll (Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope) in 1972 became the first African-American woman Broadway director. And Phylicia Rashad became the first African American to win Broadway theater’s Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 2004 for her performance in “A Raisin in the Sun.”
According to a number of West African publications including Ghana Vibe, Academy Award-winning actor and top on the list of everybody’s favorite black actor Denzel Washington, is in Nigeria for the filming of his first Nollywood film.
There is not much more information about the alleged film, particularly what it is about. However the reports all say that the film is called Spider Basket and that is is supposedly co-funded by Nigerian businessman Dennis Osadebe, who is quoted in saying, “Denzel is just one of many Hollywood stars that I want to witness the talents in this country and to impact significantly on Nollywood. Others are coming.”
Don’t know if this is genuine or just some wishful thinking, which has spun out of control on the internet; however the idea of a major black, Hollywood star, particularly one of Washington’s caliber, signing up for a film produced out of Nollywood, makes me extremely excited. Something like that could progressively pave the way for more trans-Atlantic collaborations between blacks on different continents. It would be like a Marcus Garvey dream realized – at least on film.
Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, however there does appear to be a number of American, black actors seeking work in Africa. And I’m not just talking about mainstream, or even independent, Hollywood Out-of-Africa films, which might feature a American black actor and is largely conceived out of the fantasies of white directors. I’m talking about films, conceived and written from the minds of black folks.
Like Isiah Washington, who has virtually disappeared from Hollywood after being fired from his hit television “Grey’s Anatomy” for calling his former cast mate a gay slur. Last year Washington starred in the Nigerian film Dr. Bello, a story about a American black doctor, who goes to Nigeria on the hunt of a special African potion that will cure cancer, and could help save his medical career and an African doctor from prison. The film, which also stars Haitian-born actor Jimmy Jean Louis and A-list Nigerian actresses Genevieve Nnaji and Stephanie Okereke, was written and directed by Tony Abulu, a Nigerian-raised founder of Black Ivory Communication, who has a history of taking Pan-Africanism approach into his film making. According to his bio, his previous film Back to Africa, also joined together an American cast and crew with their Nigerian counterparts. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Washington said, “…he signed on in part because he was drawn to the opportunity to “cross-pollinate” Hollywood and Nollywood.”
Vivica Fox, who is staring opposite of Washington in Dr. Bello, has also appeared in other black African-produced cinema, most recently Jeta Amata’s Black Gold and Niyi Towolawi’s Turning Point, a film, which also giving new life to mostly forgotten about American black actors Ernie Hudson (Ghost Busters) and Todd Bridges (“Different Strokes”). Nollywood has also provide opportunities for current working actors, whose success in Hollywood has yet to reach household name status. Such is the case for Gbenga Akinnagbe, a American actor born to Nigerian parents and most known for playing Chris Partlow on the television show “The Wire.” He was able to not only star but produce his very own crime drama in Nigeria called “Render to Caesar.” According to publish reports, Akinnagbe was able to secure funding for his project from former Nigerian banker.
Depending on whom you ask, Nigeria’s Nollywood is either the second or third largest film industry in the world. What is certain though, is that Nollywood is definitely holding its own with Hollywood and the Indian counterpart Bollywood, producing over 2,000 films annually and generating profits into the hundred of millions. According to an article last year in Black Enterprise:
“Similar to model used by African-American filmmaker Tyler Perry in the states, the films are typically produced at a very modest budget and yield a high return. With an average production rate of $15,000, Nollywood films often yield up to 10 times that amount in return. Nollywood filmmakers—eager to use Black American talent in order to broaden their international appeal—say that while the actors might not be able to demand the same paycheck as actors like Denzel Washington would for “Safe House” or Viola Davis would for “The Help,” the sky’s the limit on the types of stories they can tell.”
The pie in the sky is not also limited to story telling as Nollywood’s ever-expanding distribution network. Last year’s launch of a streaming-video library called iROKOtv, helped bring African cinema to new audiences across the African Diaspora, particularly in the UK, Caribbean and America markets. Likewise, a recent report suggests that the global popularity of the Nigerian film industry will be a major growth driver, with an expected compound annual growth of 3 percent in the country’s leisure sector. With that said, Nollywood is still a work in progress and more often then not, Nollywood films are plagued by poor story development, shoddy audio and technical error. However it’s continued growth over the years – not just in dollars but in actual film production – also proves that the industry has longevity and is able to stand on its own, outside of Hollywood’s power and authority.
The latter is extremely important, especially when considering solutions to the difficulty that black writers, directors and actors in the West face in terms of finding work or getting a project financed and backed through Hollywood. Not to mention the continued debates which spawn from the representation of black folks in films like Django Unchained and the soon to be released Nina Simone biopic. Nollywood might not be perfect but it should also be thought of as another viable avenue for blacks in the film industry to validate our own.
Black actors have come a long way in the last few decades. These stars may be one of the only black actors on their shows but not only do they hold it down, they steal almost every scene they are in. If you haven’t tuned in to any of these shows, click through for a reason to.
Last year, RZA gave us a reason to watch Californication, a show starring David Duchovny as a boozing writer who slores around town. In it, RZA plays a rapper named Samurai Apocalypse (of course). Since RZA is basically playing himself — a ride or die preacher/prophet with a sharp tongue — he is a lot of fun to watch.
‘We’re Not Nominated When We Do Honorable Work’: Jamie Foxx And Kerry Washington Speak On Hollywood And Black Actors
Django Unchained stars Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx recently sat down with The Grio‘s Chris Witherspoon to discuss their new film, which follows the story of a slave who frees himself from slavery and then goes back to rescue his wife. The two A-listers opened up to Chris about some touchy subjects including Kerry not being Emmy-nominated for her outstanding work in Scandal as well as the common belief that Black actors are frequently overlooked when it comes to award nominations in Hollywood. Check out some of the interview’s highlights.
On Kerry not getting the recognition she deserves:
Kerry: I feel really grateful to have a job and to be able to do what I love for a living and to work with people who I respect and admire. I do this because I love to do it, not because I have a desire to have attention.
Jamie: Well, I think she should be nominiated. I think it’s right to feel that way.Because sometimes you look at people that do get nominated and you go [makes confused face]… but I tell people, Kerry Washington has yet begun to fight.
On if they’d be opposed to getting an Oscar nomination for playing slaves:
Kerry: I don’t think you can ever control how people respond to the work. I’ve never had shame in playing somebody who is a slave or a prostitute, or anybody who may be looked down upon in society. I think we all deserve to have our stories told no matter who we are. And if I’m proud of playing a woman who is handling a crises, I’m gonna be proud of playing a woman who is a maid. My story doesn’t deserve to be told more than my grandmother’s story. My grandmother did clean houses. My great great grandmother was a slave. Everybody deserves to have their story told. There’s no shame in who we are or who we’ve been.
Jamie: A lot of times we’re not nominated when we do honorable work. Because with the slave she [Washington] plays there is dignity in everything she played. It wasn’t subservient; she wasn’t giving up to anything. So a lot of times they do overlook that, they may not want to reward that.
Check out the interview on the next page. How do you feel about Hollywood’s tendency to overlook Black actors?
They are some of Hollywood’s best kept secrets. These talented brothers and sisters can hold their own on the screen alongside the industry’s heavyweights and consistently give great performances. Yet when the awards seasons roll around, their names are barely, albeit, rarely mentioned. Here is our list of actors who we think are truly underrated, and not just the usual suspects. Do you agree?
Aunjanue Ellis has captivated audiences with her riveting performances in movies Ray, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and most recently in her role as Yule Mae in the box office hit The Help. She has also earned critical acclaim for her TV work on True Blood, Missing and The Mentalist. With her acting chops, it’s hard to believe she has yet to land a lead role on TV or on the silver screen. The Brown University graduate was recently invited to teach entertainment industry courses as an Artist-In-Residence at Hampton University.
Tee Tee is the quietly hilarious cousin/assistant of Malik Wright on The Game and although he’s a minor character, the actor behind the man, Barry Floyd, knows just how lucky he is to have the rare job of being an actor in Hollywood. Floyd started off as a production assistant on Girlfriends, with no aspirations of becoming an actor. But the constant push by show creator Mara Brock Akil and the show staff inspired him to direct his natural charisma and humor into acting. The actor, who also happens to be a writer, sat down with 24wiredtv.com to talk about his career and why Black Hollywood needs to reinvest in itself.
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You can almost already foresee the Oscar that Idris Elba will someday bring home as the British actor continues to gain notoriety in Hollywood and increasingly stellar roles. Though he;’ enjoying a very successful career run, Idris isn’t oblivious to the barriers of being a black man trying to make it as a thespian, the thing is he just has no interest in talking about it all day.
In an interview with Vulture.com, Idris was asked why he thinks he’s had a slow rise to fame, to which he answered the fact that he’s British and there are already more than enough leading men to go around. But when the reporter asked if whether he thought being black had anything to do with it, he quickly shut him down and said “next question.”
“I’m so bored of answering that,” he added. “Are there differences between black actors’ opportunities and white actors’ opportunities? Yes, there are. It’s been said. I’d rather a young black actor read about success as opposed to how tough it was. I get these roles because I can act and that’s it. Hopefully that’s it. The less I talk about being black, the better.”
Good point. It seems Idris had enough of the “woe is me talk” from a very early age, opting to actually do something about it instead. During the interview he talked about his childhood and the extremist right-wing party, The National Front, saying “Their beliefs are ‘Keep Britain White” and added:
“Walking down the street, someone would call you a black c*nt. I was like, ‘F*** that.’ ”
According to the article, it was around this time that Idris decided to shorten his given name, Idrissa, which means “firstborn son,” because he got tired of beating people up when they told him it sounded too feminine.
“I quickly got well known because I was tall and wasn’t taking any s***.”
He forgot to mention fine, although like the subject of how hard it is for black actors in Hollywood, he’s not too keen on spending a lot of time talking about his looks either. When Vulture asked if he’s ever worried about damaging that face we’ve come to love when he takes on action roles like Prometheus and Thor, he said:
“If I made my living off my face alone, I don’t think I’d be here talking to you now. I don’t have much to lose. Besides, there are characters out there that have crooked noses. I think I’ll get those characters.”
I’m pretty sure he will too, although he insists he’s still relatively unknown in the industry.
“My publicist says a lot of the time people don’t get it. They’re like, ‘Ee-dris Elba?’ And she’s like, ‘The guy from The Wire.’ I don’t see myself as famous. I’m more, ‘What’s his name again?’ And I love that.”
What do you think about Idris’s comments? Is he right that the less he talks about being black, the better off he is?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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In light of Rocsi, Terrence J, Tia Mowry and Pooch Hall recently being thrown in front of the BET firing squad, I’d like to remind them of something: keep your head in the game! It takes no time to become forgettable and despite what you might think, just about everyone is replaceable in Hollywood. They seem to all have different opportunities ahead of them but just in case they don’t, I’d like to remind them of a few people we’ve seen little to nothing from since they were fired from their show or once the show was canceled. (Rocsi, girl you are really going to need to step it up.)
So I am a bit of a cinephile. What’s that you ask?
Well according to Wiki, I am a person who has “a passionate interest in cinema.” In other words, I not only like watching films but I also like dissecting the plot elements and the cinematography. But occasionally I do…ahem…lower my high cinematic principles and indulge in the trivial and lowly.
I will admit to liking the SyFy network Mega Dinosaur versus Giant Crocodile movies of the week. And yes, I have tuned in to once or twice, okay several times for one of those Black gospel plays starring Vivica Fox or Ralph Tresvant or some other d-list celebrities. I admit that I really enjoy the rom-coms about the successful female journalist/bookstore owner/fashion magazine intern falling for the hot yet womanizing/self-absorbed/underemployed male, who doesn’t know that he is in love with the protagonist until a misunderstanding/breakup/seeing her without her eyeglasses and in a beautiful dress for the first time forces him to realize that he loves her too.
Oh did I mention that I absolutely love – with a capital “L” – those direct to video movies from Nigeria? Nollywood? Are you serious? Yes, very.
Yes I know, the clumsy and very low budget cinematography, almost as if it was filmed on a flip camera, the shoddy editing which looks like it was done on Windows Move Maker and the overly dramatic and exaggerated acting and facial expressions is enough to warrant me to lose whatever credibility I have as a person who claims to have discerning taste, especially in films. And while I might never be accused of being next the Siskel and Ebert, I do know what entertains me. And there is nothing better than curling up in a blanket on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, watching the tantalizing tomfoolery that is Nollywood films.
If you never seen a Nollywood production, imagine a BET movie of the week meets a Daytime soap opera – American, Spanish or otherwise. I’m talking about intrigue, plot twists, bad singing, car chases, gangsters, casual sex and juju, wrapped up into four of the most entertaining hours you will ever spend in front of the television. Yes, I said four hours because that is the average length of a Nollywood production. So grab plenty of popcorn because you are going to be there for a while.
Over the weekend, I found a YouTube channel called Nollywood Love, which host dozens of fairly recent films, mostly English-language films, from Nigeria. I started on late Friday night watching a movie called Beyonce and Rihanna,” a film about two singing rivals fighting each other over a chance at stardom – and a dude name Jay. You couldn’t make this up if you tried; however Nollywood can and did.
By Sunday morning I realized that I had spent the entire Easter Holiday weekend on films like African Queen, BlackBerry Babes, the Return of BlackBerry Babes, Jenifa, White Hunters and my personal favorite: The Return of White Hunters, a comedy about gold diggers on the hunt for white husbands, which features probably the most political incorrect theme songs ever made in history.
While the films might be classified as amateurish at best, these Nigerian directors have managed to take only a few thousand dollars, a digital camera, and a couple of local actresses and turn it into a film industry worth an estimated $236 million. In fact, Nigeria has the world’s second-largest film industry second only to Bollywood (India’s film industry). Yes that’s right, Nollywood produces more films than Hollywood in a single year. And with audiences growing beyond the continent of Africa into places like Europe, the Caribbean and the United States, the potential for growth might be enough to push Nollywood to the number one spot in terms of content creation.
Earlier this week The New York based hedge fund group Tiger Global, who is also an early investor in Facebook, has announced that it is investing in iROKO TV, a Nigerian version of Netflix, which has the largest licensee of Nollywood movies, with more than 3,000 titles in its library. It is YouTube’s largest African partner contributing content under its Nollywood Love account. While quality of film remains a concern, not everything coming out of Nollywood is low budget. Recently the New York Times profiled the Nigerian film industry and focused on a film called “The Figurine,” which they describe as an “aesthetic leap,” from what we normally associate with Nollywood films. In fact, critics have praised the film, which actually made it to theaters and is said to hold its own on the international arena of quality filmmaking.
While it is too early in Nollywood film history to declare the second coming of an Ousmane Sembene-type filmmaker coming out of Nigeria, the stories being produced right now provide the type of escapism from the heavier African tales of war and famine we regularly see of Hollywood. This ability to portray a more human and universal image of folks with dark skin – regardless of criticism over quality – might mean that the Black Hollywood that we longed to see in America has already been created and flourishing in the motherland.
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by Marissa Ellis
There are some child stars that aren’t a mystery…like Jurnee Smollett, who has a bigger career these days than she did as a child star on Full House, and Jaleel White aka Steve Urkel who…well, let’s just say he’s always on the radar. But what about the others who may not be so recognizable to the untrained eye? You may have not realized that certain working Black actors today were child stars of yesterday, or maybe you wonder why certain child stars never rode their talents into adulthood. We’ve gathered just a few cases of child stars to see what they look like now and what they’ve been up to.
Kellie Shanygne Williams (36) played Laura Winslow on the beloved ABC sitcom Family Matters for nine seasons. She acted only in a couple of other projects after the show wrapped in the late 1990s including the ABC show What About Joan.
The Washington DC native married Hannibal Jackson in 2009 and had her first child Hannah Belle in 2010 at the age of 34.