All Articles Tagged "black actresses"
Did you know that Kim Fields’ real life mother is the same mother who beat Penny with an iron on the four-part special episode of “Good Times”?
Okay, apparently everyone knew this already.
But I’m just finding out this bit of stale news. I’m also just learning that her sister is an actress too. More specifically, Alexis Fields is the woman who played the best friend on “Sister, Sister” and “Moesha.”
While the news is old, it does provide a bit of context to a question, which has been boggling the minds of many for a couple of weeks now. In short, why is Kim Fields on Real Housewives of Atlanta?
It’s a question that has mystified even the most skeptical of reality television watchers. We have seen some mismatched and questionable cast mate pairings before, but Fields is by far the most baffling.
That’s why I don’t blame all the lazy folks who are hoping somebody else starts a petition to get her fired from the show. And while I won’t go as far as to say she is boring, compared to the uncompromising carefree spirit of her fellow cast members, I will say that she would probably feel more comfortable holding a bottle of prune juice instead of a peach.
And it is not because she acts like there is not life, an ecosystem and an entire universe of happenings outside of the insular existence she created with just her husband and family. It’s not just because she doesn’t understand why a woman would dance with another woman, just to dance. (I am almost positive that if those same women were grinding all up on dudes, she would scrunch up her nose and have something righteous to say about that too.)
It’s not just because she claims to not understand the cattiness and sheer extra-ness of the other women, but then does something catty and low-key shady like opting to sleep on a lounge couch in the living room instead of a semi-private room with one of the girls. And it is not because she dresses like she just stepped out of a Roamans’ catalog.
It’s because she does all of that while acting as if she hadn’t seen the show before she actually signed up to star on it.
So either BRAVO is using this boring Fields storyline to teach us all a lesson about asking for more respectable Black women on reality television or Fields is only here so she won’t get fined.
Listen, if we are talking about the latter, ain’t no shame in that. Everybody has bills. And most of her talents revolve around film and television (both acting, producing and directing). So why not collect an easy check?
But fans of the series ain’t checking for Tootie on roller skates. We want Regine.
And regardless of how you feel about her and the rest of the RHOA cast members, you have to admit there are other shows, or show templates that would make much better fits.
For instance, “Hollywood Divas.” Surely she could fly out to Tinseltown for a few months…er, I forgot who we are talking about here. Okay let me revise: surely she could uproot the family for a few months to film in sunny California with women who are more aligned with her sensibilities?
Or here’s an idea: let Fields star in her own show. How about a petition for that lazy, internet people?
While Fields may not fit in with the mean girls of RHOA, she might have much better luck starring in a series, which revolves around her family. And not just her children and husband, because if I wanted to watch people talking about reading on lawn chairs all day, I would watch C-SPAN’s Book TV.
But bring her other famous family members into the mix. Picture it: a show about mothers in strapless smock maxi dresses talking about family values and being more Jesus-approved than other women. It could be like “Mary Mary” but with a touch of “Braxton Family Values” woven into it.
I smell a hit!
And I am certain the entire Fields clan would appreciate the steady check too.
Of course there is another theory worth considering: perhaps Fields is not as righteous as she is playing herself up to be? Perhaps beneath all of that smock-wearing and finger-wagging, is a woman dying to unleash her inner carefree Black girl, but just doesn’t know how to be that without looking like a hypocrite?
I’ll admit that it is entirely possible because – and again – why else would she be on the show? And I guess we’ll all have to wait and see how that theory plays out during the remainder of the season.
Leave it to the funny and always outspoken actress, Gabourey Sidibe, to keep it all the way real whether people are bashing her for a sex scene or she’s speaking on the current climate for black actresses on TV.
On Thursday (Dec. 10), at the New York Women in Film and Television’s Muse Awards, where she was being honored, the Academy and Golden Globe Award-nominated actress sounded off on the representation of black actresses on TV.
With her recent role reoccurring as the quirky role as Becky, her portfolio has greatly expanded from her dramatic breakout role in Precious. During the Awards, Sidibe shared her thoughts on the success of shows with black women leading the cast (Empire, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder), saying, “I think we did pretty well in 2015.”
She continued, “While I’m excited about it, I’m also disappointed it’s taken this long. We’ve always been here. Just because you’re looking now doesn’t mean that we haven’t been here. Just because you’re looking now doesn’t mean that we haven’t been here, or that we haven’t been talented all this time. We have been. Thank you for paying attention, now get out of my way and allow me to do more work.”
And Sidibe is keeping her promise of “more work,” as she is in the process of writing her first book, which is set to release in 2017.
If you’ve ever asked a Black man between the ages of 25-40 who their celebrity crushes are, Meagan Good’s name will come up a lot. Quite a lot. And perhaps that’s a part of the problem.
In a recent interview with the LA Sentinel, the actress talked about the journey to be taken seriously as an actress.
She mentioned that Viola Davis calling her name during her Emmy acceptance speech was a huge moment for her.
I cried. It meant so much to me to be acknowledged by someone like Viola who I have so much respect for. We all face challenges in this business especially as black women. It’s been a really long crawl for me to transition from being a child actress to an adult actress; in addition to being in that sex kitten role in my early 20s and fighting to be taken more seriously. It’s been a really long journey and to hear her say my name really blessed me. To listen to her journey and to know what she’s gone through to be acknowledged for the great actress that she is…it’s all of our struggles to get out of the box that people always try to put us in.
It’s an incredible time for women and minorities in TV and film. There’s been a massive shift that we’ve all been patiently waiting for. I’m a big believer in not complaining about the things that are wrong. Instead I place my energy into being on the front line of change, having a positive attitude and fighting to see things shift. To be in Hollywood right now and have these opportunities as the shift is coming is incredible.
To that point, Good said that she relies on God to help her determine which roles will be right for her career.
I pray and read my bible every single day, I stay close to God because He’s what matters the most; everything else is secondary. My career can never give me what God can give me. When Deception initially came to me, I was afraid to do TV because it’s a huge time commitment and you’ll potentially be playing the same character for several years. And for at least six months of the year you’re away from your family in a different state or even a different country.
I had all of these stipulations about what the situation had to be in order for me to do television. When the opportunity for me to star in Deception presented itself, it was everything I said it had to be, so I knew it was God. When it ended, I was very thankful because it created so many other opportunities for me in the process. Deception opened the door for Minority Report as well as my role in Anchor Man 2: The Legend Continues. God wanted me to have those different roles to be able to build a platform where I could be more affective as a Christian.
Deception allowed people to see me in a really different light. At the time, I had just gotten married and being away from my family I had a lot of time to grow personally and professionally. So I wasn’t disappointed when the show got canceled because I knew God had something else lined up. Similarly with Minority Report, I asked God for certain things within the role and it was everything I said it needed to be. It’s a testament to not settling. I would rather not work than to do something that I’m not passionate about.
I’m so excited about Minority Report. This show is definitely the hardest I’ve ever worked but it’s been an incredible experience. I trust God so much that even if my decisions don’t make sense to other people, I know that God knows what He’s doing.
Good’s comments are interesting to me. Before this interview, I would have thought she preferred the sex kitten roles. It always seemed to me that she was so anxious to break away from the child actress label that she went for the sexy route. Hell, even when she wasn’t in a movie, Good’s red carpet choices were sexy. We all remember the dress she wore to the BET Awards, pictured above. And she was presenting a gospel award.
This whole discussion reminds me of an episode of “Tia and Tamera” where Tamera told Tia that she was tired of being typecast as the innocent, sweet girl. Tia just looked at her and laughed saying, well maybe you should stop going to auditions wearing Shirley Temple curls.
Hollywood, and society at large, is shallow, always attempting to put people in one box or another. I’m sure this applies even more so to Black women who are just now being offered roles that are more complex and whole.
It’ll be interesting to see if Good ever breaks out of this “sex kitten” pigeon hole.
You can read her full interview with the LA Sentinel, here.
I don’t have to tell you all that Viola Davis is a class act. But that doesn’t mean she’s been deaf and blind to the discussion surrounding her recent and historic Emmy win, particularly her acceptance speech.
We’re talking about Nancy Grahn.
You may remember that Grahn, a soap star on “General Hospital” took issue with Viola’s speech saying to liken herself to Harriet Tubman, “digging thru a tunnel,” was a bit of a stretch. And she also wondered why she didn’t reference the ways in which all women are disenfranchised in Hollywood.
Naturally, it was bullish*t, likely brought on my Grahn’s own feelings of jealousy.
But Viola has heard about it.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Davis addressed Grahn’s criticisms and explained why that Harriet Tubman quote was so necessary.
And she even revealed what she and Taraji said to one another in that memorable embrace before she took the stage.
Why she used that Harriet Tubman quote
My husband and I are doing a Harriet Tubman project, and when it was picked up by HBO, one of the producers sent me that quote. It struck me in such a huge way because of its progressiveness, so it stayed with me ever since, and that’s been several months. I just felt it was apropos, seeing that no woman of color has ever won in that category. That moment had to be acknowledged, or else it would be a missed opportunity. It would be one of those moments I would look back on, and I would have regretted it.
On the Backlash
If there has been any backlash, it’s that all people want to feel included in a speech. I know there has been some backlash with an actress who didn’t feel she was included.
You mean Nancy Grahn?
Yes. I don’t know that I want to say more about that.
Y’all Viola is brilliant. Do you see what she did there? Nancy Grahn was deep up in her feelings because she didn’t feel included which is exactly what Viola’s speech was about in the first place. The same thing you want, we want.
What did you and Taraji say to one another that night?
First of all, that was like the second or third time we hugged through the night. She said, “I love you,” and I said, “I love you more than anything in the world, I love you!” That’s what we said. I think at the end of the day, people want to be seen. And I think that’s why it was important for me and Taraji to acknowledge that in each other, to not just feel like it is competition, to just say, I see you, yes, I see you, too. I love you. I take you in.
The other Black actresses she celebrated that night
Oh, I saw every last one of them! I saw Uzo, I saw Regina, I saw Lorraine Toussant, I saw Niecy Nash, I saw Queen Latifah — I didn’t get to see Mo’Nique or Kerry Washington, who I get to see on the set every once in a while. But I am renewing my vows on Feb. 13, and I hope I will get to see Kerry Washington and Taraji there. Oprah sent me a bouquet. See, these are actresses I get together with every year, in community, in camaraderie, in sisterhood. It’s pointless to be in competition — it’s only adding to the pressure that the business is putting on you.
I appreciate the way she addressed Grahn without making it messy or giving her an opportunity to respond. And I love that she shared what she and Taraji said to one another. But what struck me the most about the interview was that Davis explained how she’s finally learning to embrace the good.
How are you feeling about everything?
I’m feeling good! I’m surprised. I usually go inside my head and start overthinking things whenever something good happens and talk myself out of the joy. But I haven’t done that this time, so I think that’s a sign of maturity.
You can Davis’ full interview here.
You can read her full interview here.
In case you haven’t noticed, Black women have made a killing this year in the television realm. As the scripted show writing has improved, the roles have Black actresses have also increased. And it was reflected in the Emmy nominations.
There was even history made in the Lead Actress category. Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson’s nominations signify the first time two Black actresses have been nominated in that particular category.
Check out the Black actresses and actors who walked away with a nod.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
Will Forte, “The Last Man on Earth”
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”
Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Louis C.K., “Louie”
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”
Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away With Murder”
Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey”
Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”
Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”
Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”
Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is the New Black”
Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Niecy Nash, “Getting On”
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”
Allison Janney, “Mom”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”
Gaby Hoffmann, “Transparent”
Jane Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”
Outstanding Supporting Actor in A Comedy Series
Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Adam Driver, “Girls”
Keegan-Michael Key, “Key & Peele”
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, “Veep”
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Diana Rigg, “Game of Thrones”
Rachel Brosnahan, “House of Cards”
Cicely Tyson, “How to Get Away With Murder”
Allison Janney, “Masters of Sex”
Khandi Alexander, “Scandal”
Margo Martindale, “The Americans”
Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series
Alan Alda, “The Blacklist”
Michael J Fox, “The Good Wife”
F. Murray Abraham, “Homeland”
Reg E. Cathey, “House of Cards”
Beau Bridges, “Masters of Sex”
Pablo Schreiber, “Orange Is the New Black”
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie
Timothy Hutton, American Crime
Ricky Gervais, Derek Special
Adrien Brody, Houdini
David Oyelowo, Nightingale
Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honourable Woman
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
Queen Latifah, Bessie
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Emma Thompson, Sweeney Todd
Who are you rooting for this year?
Why wait to catch the eye of big name studios? Black actors are now turning to the World Wide Web to create and produce TV series while bypassing the Hollywood red tape, The Ledger reports.
Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl opened doors for many Black actors and actresses. HBO recognized the talent that Rae’s YouTube TV series captured and the big name studio offered her a lucrative development deal. The Internet, according to the Ledger, is allowing Black content creators to reach their target audience directly without needing to win the affections of stiff network executives.
“Instead of wondering where the next opportunity can come, I said, ‘I am going to come up with it and do it myself,'” said Degrassi star Andrea Lewis.
Lewis is the mastermind behind Black Actress, a comedy web series that explores the obstacles that Black actors face in the industry. The episodes also include real-life interviews from actresses such as Naturi Naughton and Tatyana Ali. Both discuss the struggles of having a creative career.
Lewis created Black Actress after a Degrassi cast member introduced her as the “urban one.”
“I was seen as the Black one on the set, not as a peer or another actor who is trying to work,” she said. “It was an uncomfortable experience for me and also for the others who were there,” she said.
Lewis perceives the web as a breath of fresh air. There are no gatekeepers that infringe on her creative freedom.
The 19th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), which completed its four-day run on June 14, exemplified Lewis’ plight — and success — in being a Black film artist and turning to the Web as a creative platform.
“You’ve got to try to take your own destiny in your own hands and there is no excuse now,” Jeff Friday, co-founder of the ABFF, said.
Issa Rae, who is currently working on her HBO-ordered Insecure series, joined Lewis for the “How to Create and Monetize a Successful Web Series” panel at ABFF. Rae noted that these discussions are important — there are ways to make money from web series and people don’t even know it.
“I never thought that anyone would really pay to see my work online,” Rae said. “I got into this industry initially as a fan and to be able to use my platform to support other up-and-coming artists that I am a fan of. That’s an ideal situation for me,” she said.
Rae’s success comes from creating a handful of web series through her company, Color Creative.
BuzzFeed actress Quinta B. chimed in on the conversation, saying “Hollywood will come knocking” if you can gain an audience through a web platform.
In a interview with The Wrap Magazine Gyllenhall, who was nominated for an Academy Award and currently stars in the IFC series “The Honourable Woman,” said that she was recently turned down for a film because, according to Tinsel Town, she’s too old to be a love interest. As reported in a blurb on The Wrap’s website, Gyllenhall said specifically:
“There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time. I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”
That truly sucks. I have always hated how in mainstream films, an older shriveled up actor is always cast as the love interest of a young beautiful woman half his age. But that’s the white male ego for y’all. For once, it seems, white women are in a position worse than Black women. Or it could be that, once again, the mainstream has lumped all women into one category in spite of what might not be a universal problem.
Either way, this ageism crap really isn’t a Black woman’s issue. What I mean is that when it comes to Black Hollywood, love has no age.
Let’s take last year for example. While white actresses like Gyllenhall were being tossed aside for younger models, Black actresses above thirty were coming into their own and finding love all over the place. Like Regina Hall, age 43, who had played opposite Kevin Hart, 35, in “About Last Night” and Terrence J, who is only 33 years old, in “Think Like a Man Too.” In fact, Hall will be 44 years old when she revives her part of Candy, the former sexy stripper in “The Best Man Wedding” next year. Let me say that again: 44 years old.
Hall is not the only one who appears to be drinking from the anti-discriminatory fountain of youth. Edwina Finley, 35, also co-starred with Hart in “Get Hard.” Then there are Gabrielle Union, age 42, Sherri Shephard, 48, and Rosario Dawson, age 36, who all played love interests of 50-year-old Chris Rock in “Top Five.”
In fact, Black film has long shown love and appreciation for the cultivated woman. For instance, Queen Latifah was 41 years old and Paula Patton was 35 years old when they both played love interests of the now 43-year-old rapper Common. Patton, again, was 38 when she played a young bride in Jumping the Broom. Janet Jackson, 49, Jill Scott, 43, Tasha Smith, 44, and Sharon Leal, who is a shocking 43 (seriously she looks got-damn great), were well into their thirties and beyond when they starred in the first “Why Did I Get Married,” which came out in 2007 and even more seasoned in “Why Did I Get Married Too,” which was released in 2010. In fact, it would seem that out of all the Black films, which centered around May-December romances, it is usually the Black woman who is “Getting her Groove Back.” By the way, Angela Basset was 39 years old when she played Stella.
And it is not just in the roles of love interests where Black women are shinning. “Selma,” which was directed by 42-year-old Ava DuVernay, starred several Black women well into their 30s and beyond, including Carmen Ejogo who will be 42 this year, Lorraine Toussaint, who is 55, Niecy Nash who is 45 and Oprah Winfrey who is 61. In fact, the youngest recognizable actress in the film was Tessa Thompson who is 31 years old. Even the white women cast in the film were middle-aged women, including Tara Ochs, who is 38, and Elizabeth Wells Berkes and Haviland Stillwell, who both don’t have their ages listed anywhere online, which is a tell-tale sign that neither are spring chickens anymore – at least by White Hollywood standards.
White actresses have longe complained about sexism, particularly around the issue of ageism, in Hollywood, but perhaps the answer has been under their orthopedic shoes the entire time. Perhaps actress like Gyllenhall should consider auditioning for roles in the next Tyler Perry flick — he loves a mature woman — or better yet, perhaps Hollywood should consider hiring more Black creatives. Obviously, they are not scared of a mature woman.
Now, it is no secret that Black moms have been turnin’ up since the dawn of time. OG trill mom Florida Evans may have come through with a mild turn up on Good Times (“Damn, damn, damn!”), but there have been quite a few Black TV moms who revamped the way we looked at motherly figures on-screen.
With fierce personalities, independence, and drive, these mothers kept it all the way real.
As Mother’s Day fast approaches, let’s look at 15 Black TV moms who played no games and are some of our favorites.
Over the years, we’ve seen Andrea Lewis grow into an innovated producer by launching her successful webseries, “Black Actress.” Noted for her fan-favorite role as Hazel from Degrassi, 29-year-old Lewis is starting her own production company called Jungle Wild. On her website, Lewis says Jungle Wild will become a new model for entertainment companies by gathering millennial and experienced content creators together who want to push the envelope by producing authentic and original televisions shows or films. In order for Jungle Wild to accomplish its 2015 goals, Lewis and her team have launched a Kickstarter to earn funds in order to create and distribute three more webseries. Seeking a goal of $30,000 Lewis said in a letter to donors:
“We want to continue to produce and distribute our current hit series, Black Actress, and produce and distribute 3 new series by the end of 2015 on the Andrea Lewis Youtube Channel. We’ve already developed the concepts and over the next few weeks, we will release sample video content for the series. Our team and much of our cast for the series are already confirmed and are just waiting for our shooting dates. They are eager to show the world that casts with a diversity of characters, both in front of the camera and behind, create the best entertainment. In 2015, we would also like to begin developing our first independent feature. So with your help, we can reach our goal and create opportunities for other diverse content creators to produce and showcase their work as well.”
Below, Lewis and her team created a video introducing the current staff of Jungle Wild Productions. They also share what their prospective three webseries is about: Beyond Complicated (a couple working through their issues without playing by the rules), Married (what happens after an newlywed couple’s honeymoon phase ends), and Fuel (an animated series revolving around an abused superhero twenty-something who learns her powers are a gift and a curse).
You can donate to the Jungle Wild Production’s Kickstarter here.
Here is the latest episode of Lewis’s webseries hit, Black Actress:
Actress and comedienne Mo’Nique made all kinds of headlines when she explained to the Hollywood Reporter, why we haven’t seen her around in a while. Basically, Lee Daniels told her she’d been blackballed in the industry. The news came as a bit of a surprise considering the fact that Mo’Nique is so undeniably talented. Well, there was one person who wasn’t surprised. Actress, author and philanthropist Sheryl Lee Ralph sat down with “Access Hollywood” to say that perhaps Mo’Nique just needs to get better at playing the game.
Check out the highlights from her interview below…and then we’ll discuss.
There is obviously a game. When you walk into the room, do people love you? Do they want to give you stuff? Do they want to do things for you? Do they want to give you their money with the hopes that they’re going to get it back with an interest on the time they spent just handing it over to you. That’s part of the game, how you make people feel.
But the best part of the game is public relations, baby. Are people talking about you? Well, she’s been gone for how many years now, we have not been hearing about her, seeing her, nothing. Right about now, everybody’s talking about her. And that’s good stuff.
Refusing to campaign for ‘Precious’
What’s interesting about that is she didn’t campaign. I wonder, do you think that they would blackball Tom Hanks for not campaigning for a movie? The game is different for women… Maybe she was in a state. We don’t know what was going on with that person. She might have been in a state of her mind where she said, ‘I cannot go out there and do this with all these people without causing harm to myself.’ We don’t know what was going on in her mind.
Is she really difficult?
Maybe she is. There are a whole lot of actors who are mean and terrible but they work all the time. It goes back to who likes you. Who wants to be in your kind of crazy company? Who wants to give you money in hopes that they’ll get something back on the return of your madness? And sometimes you just need to shut up, sit there and look pretty. It’s the truth. That’s a part of the game too.
Have you ever done that?
No, I’ve never done that. I’ve never played well at that. But I think this is a set up for a comeback. Now, when she comes back, she better be as tiny as you. *Points to hostess Kit Hoover.*
Really? Then she wouldn’t be Mo’Nique…
She doesn’t need to be Mo’Nique anymore because obviously what she was did not work. So she better come back brand new. That’s what they’re waiting for and if a big time producer says to you, ‘You have been blackballed, what’s he’s really doing is looking at you and saying ‘You ain’t never working with me again.’
Is any of this race driven?
There’s always a difference when you add color to it. When I was a little girl, my mother used to say to me ‘You’re going to have to work twice as hard for half a chance. You are going to have to win the race five times before they give you the award.’ So that has always been true. But in this case, maybe it’s just a case of timing. She was not in the right head space. Maybe she was heading down a dark road. Maybe she had some of the wrong people around her and it wasn’t the position to jettison her from that Oscar. But maybe it’s all working itself out in the comeback for Mo’Nique. Come on back, girl, come on.
I would think there would be other roles
Do you see a whole lot of roles for somebody who looks like the Mo’Nique we have seen in the past, unless you are Precious?
Let me just say, I’m genuinely confused by Sheryl’s statements. There are times during this interview where I think she’s making a legitimate critique of the industry. And then there are other times where it seems like she’s making a critique of Mo’Nique, suggesting that in order for her to succeed in this industry she needs to change everything about herself.
I understand the notion of playing the game but telling another woman to sit down, shut up and look pretty, specifically when Sheryl admitted that she’s never done it, rings as odd and counterproductive to me. How is the industry going to change and be more accepting if women are knowingly playing the shut up and take it game?
I’ve watched quite a few Mo’Nique interviews over the years and I just recently re-listened to her acceptance speech at the Oscars. Where she took time to thank the Academy for making the award about the performance and not about politics. In other words, even at what we consider to be the pinnacle of her career, Mo’Nique was not about playing the game. Judging by her decision to even speak to the Hollywood Reporter about being blackballed and dropping Lee Daniels’ name, specifically, it doesn’t seem like she’s about playing the game now either. If she were she would have sat on that information and hatched a plan to change the way she’s perceived in the industry.
Also, I can’t be the only one who noticed that Ralph seemed to be making comments about Mo’Nique’s mental state, suggesting that she was in the wrong headspace or heading down a “dark road.” I just kept wondering does Sheryl know Mo’Nique? Does she know something we don’t about her journey as a woman and actress?
Lastly, and perhaps most disturbingly, Ralph suggests that in order for Hollywood to accept Mo’Nique she must not only lose weight but become an entirely different person because the person she was did not work.
You know how your grandma, auntie or even mother can only give you advice based on the experiences they’ve had and the trials they’ve faced? They’re trying to help you succeed, not quite understanding that times have changed. And we don’t have to play by those antiquated rules anymore. I always reference my mom telling me to wear a wig to cover my natural hair during job interviews, the career advisor telling me to remove the Black associations from my resume and my grandfather telling me I needed to remove my nose ring in order to be taken seriously. Each one of these people ultimately meant well. But they also failed to understand that I didn’t want the type of career success that came with hiding who I really was and still am today.
Perhaps this is what Sheryl Lee Ralph is doing, trying to save Mo’Nique some of the pain and heartache of being abused by an industry she knows pretty well.
I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she probably meant well. But we can’t expect to change the industry if we all kept playing that same old, losing game.
You can watch Sheryl Lee Ralph’s full remarks in the video below.