All Articles Tagged "black actresses"
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.
Just because a whole lot of people of color weren’t nominated for Academy Awards this year, it certainly didn’t stop the party.
Every year, for the past six years, Alfre Woodard hosts the Oscars’s Sistah Soiree. And the name tells it all. Woodard invites Black actresses to gather together and celebrate their accomplishments throughout the years.
Variety reports that she started hosting this party because she was tired of feeling like there was so much competition and animosity between Black actresses.
During the cocktail party before the dinner, held at the Beverly Hills Wilshire, Woodard said: “Every time we hear each others’ names, it felt like it was on of our reps going, ‘If that b-tch turns it down, then you can have it! I was like, wait a minute. When I hear my sister’s names, I want to have a joyful feeling in my heart about it.”
During the party, sponsored by Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds Lustre fragrance, Woodard struggled to find a quiet space to complete the interview.
“You see how loud it gets! It’s always like this, because all the women in this room have more in common with each other than anyone else in the professional world. We’ve all been on the same journey- we speak a common language.”
While I’m sure quite a few of us would have loved to be in that room, the invitees can’t even bring their significant others to the party. “From the first time, everyone just fell into each others’ arms. it was immediate bonding.”
The idea to host the gathering had been on her mind for years but 2009 just so happened to be the year both Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson were nominated for Doubt and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But she didn’t just want to honor the nominees.
“It’s to honor the women who are nominated and the women who, in a perfect world, should have been. I wasn’t going to have a gathering of women actors and not have CCH Pounder or Lorraine Toussaint here!”
The event also serves as a means to show support.
“We know the ones nominated will be out and (are) being celebrated. But when they’re on the carpet, when they’re walking onstage, there are people like them wishing them well. The women who know exactly what you’re doing, actors of quality, saying good on you. We got your back.”
British actresses Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Carmen Ejogo, who plays Coretta in Selma, shared a moment Ejogo was a support for Mbatha-Raw when she first moved to the United States for the short-lived television show “Undercovers.” Mbatha-Raw recalled feeling lost.
“I actually asked Carmen for advice.”
And Ejogo responded, “You clearly found your way, babe.”
Later, Ejogo for continued, expounding on her excitement for Mbatha-Raw and explaining how event like this “remind you we’re all in this together and we have to support each other. I feel like I’m celebrating everyone. It’s a wonderful moment.”
I cannot tell you how much I love these images!
“Can You Put Me In The Story?” Viola Davis Talks Diversity In Hollywood During Her SAG Acceptance Speech
After the excessively White Golden Globes, we thought the Screen Actors Guild Awards would be more of the same. But fortunately, we were mistaken. Several of our favorite actresses walked away with awards that evening.
Uzo Aduba for female actor in a comedy series and predominately female cast of “Orange Is The New Black,” won for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series. It was so refreshing to see all of those women take the stage last night.
Uzo Aduba delivered a particularly moving speech when she accepted her award.
“I want to say a huge massive thanks to our cast, without whom, this is not possible. I love you guys, so desperately, so much. This is not done without you, at all, any step of the way. I want to thank my friends, I want to thank my family and finally I just really, really truly want to say that the day I got this job was the day I had stopped acting. And to be in a room with all of you amazing human beings, amazing talents, for what I respect and love so much, is really, truly the greatest honor. Thank you so very much. God bless you all.”
You can watch her full speech here.
And when Viola Davis was accepting her award for best female actor in a drama series, she used her daughter as an example for why it’s so important that Hollywood reflect the world in which we live.
“When I tell my daughter stories at night, inevitably, a few things happen. Number one, I use my imagination. I always start with life and then I build from there. And then the other thing that happens is she always says, ‘Mommy, can you put me in the story.’ And you know, it starts from the top.”
Then she thanked Shonda Rhimes and the other “How To Get Away With Murder” producers and creators for “thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old, dark-skinned, African American woman who looks like me.”
And thank you to all the people who love me, exactly how God made me. And that’s my beautiful husband Julius, my 4-year-old daughter at home, Genesis and my mother May Alice Davis. Thank you so much.
You can watch her entire acceptance speech in the video below.
Annie star Quvenzhane Wallis has already lined up her next film. But for it she will take a major pay cut. The youngest female star to ever be nominated for an Academy Award will go from making in $750,000 for “Annie” to getting a mere $40,000 base salary for her role in the upcoming Fathers and Daughters starring Russell Crowe and Breaking Bad Emmy winner Aaron Paul.
But it might be a smart move. She has a deal in which if the film pulls in $35 million at the box office, the 11-year-old will get another $25,00 and an additional $25,000 for every $5 million jump after that, with a max bonus of $200,000. So if the movie is a box office success, she will walk away with $240,000.
This is still less than her starring role in Annie, but she could make even more from her current flick. She will “score another $750,000 bonus if ‘Annie’ does well — it’s grossed $100M worldwide so far,” reports TMZ.
Wallis, who is worth a reported $3 million, made $130,500 for her Oscar nominated role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, $170,000 for 12 Years A Slave, and $187,500 for The Prophet, based on the popular book y Khalil Gibran.
She’s raking in a lot of dough to fill those fashionable animal purses she favors.
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.
“Hollywood Divas” is premiering tonight on TV One at 10 p.m. ET. The show stars actresses who have struggled in the past few to several years with their careers and staying in the limelight: Golden Brooks, Countess Vaughn, Elise Neal and Paula Jai Parker. Also starring is reality star Lisa Wu who is sure to bring the drama. But MadameNoire feels as though there are more black actresses who can use “Hollywood Divas” as a platform to revive their careers — especially if the show branches out into other cities and future seasons.