All Articles Tagged "Blacks in Hollywood"
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!?
2011 was a good year for blacks in film. From comedy to drama, to independent films gone mainstream, we did our thing this year.
If you don’t believe me and need further proof, check out this list of stars in black who dominated this year at Black Voices.com.
More on Madame Noire!
Idris Elba — hunky British actor known for his fascinating leading roles — is heating up the web today for stating that he would be happy to play James Bond in the next version of the film. But he has ONE major condition.
The Hot star of the BBC series “Luther” told CNN:
I would do it, but I don’t want to be called the first black James Bond. [Emphasis ours.] Do you understand what I ‘m saying? Sean Connery wasn’t the Scottish James Bond and Daniel Craig wasn’t the blue-eyed James Bond. So if I played him, I don’t want to be called the black James Bond.”
As Elba goes on to explain, he didn’t come to the States “to play black roles. I just came to play roles.”
That is an interesting stipulation to make — but good luck with that Idris. Just like President Obama being the first black president of the United States NO MATTER WHAT, that is how he will be seen if he lands this iconic gig.
There has been similar talk of Beyonce playing Wonder Woman if that movie idea ever makes it to the big screen. These are both very interesting casting concepts, which would certainly breathe new life into old cultural institutions. But, I wonder if the mainstream is ready for blacks to portray heroic images typically enacted by white actors, or if there might be a negative reaction.
Recently when Marvel Comics made Spiderman a black and Latino bi-racial youth, some reactions were not pretty. And this was just for the comic book.
I personally believe younger audiences are ready for a black James Bond, a creole Wonder Woman, and an Asian Superman. What do you think Madame Noire lovlies? Leave your comments below!
By Torri R. Oats
Every year, Vanity Fair publishes its version of the up-and-coming superstars of tomorrow — the famous “Hollywood Issue.” Too often African-American actors and actresses are excluded because of many factors including lack of exposure and good, meaty roles. But rest assured, there is a new generation of African-American talents waiting for their star turn. Here are just a few we should watch closely, as they are poised to make their mark in Hollywood in the coming years. They have the style, they have the look, and they have talent in spades. Pretty soon the mainstream media will wake up and take notice — but you heard it hear first. Here are the Top 7 Black Actors & Actresses Whose Careers Are Heating Up.
It’s hard to believe that Jurnee Smollett has been in “the biz” for nearly twenty years. Although, it wasn’t until 1997 that Ms. Smollett, who was a new face to most of us, burst on the scene with a scene-stealing, star-making performance as Eve Batiste in “Eve’s Bayou.” Throughout her career, she has been a consistently solid performer in television and film — always interesting, always unique, always Jurnee. When we spoke to Shawn Edwards of iloveblackmovies.com, he was effusive with praise for Ms. Smollett. “I really, really like her,” he told The Atlanta Post. “She was great in ‘The Great Debaters,’ but it fizzled. She hasn’t had that major role to take her to the next level.” Despite this silver screen setback, this gifted actress has more than paid her dues and with several awards under her belt, including three Image awards, she is well-positioned to dominate the scene in the future. Ms. Smollett is currently on the television show, “The Defenders.”
By Torri R. Oats
With the announcement of the remake of ‘70s classic “Sparkle” getting the green light, we have to ask: Is there any originality in Hollywood? Looking at the 2011 film schedule, a record-setting 27 sequels, prequels, reboots and remakes are on deck. Thus, one would be hard-pressed to answer affirmatively, as retreads will account for over a fifth of film releases this year. With studios regularly spending hundreds of millions of dollars on producing and marketing a single film, they are increasingly focused on “sure things,” instead of looking for the next “Do the Right Thing.” It’s a great business strategy, as this record-breaking summer has proved, but is it a great creative strategy? For black films, the remake has at times proven to be lucrative and dynamic as a vehicle to promote African-American stars to mainstream audiences. Let’s take a look at some of Hollywood’s black takes on classic stories. Sometimes a do-over with a black cast — or a black cast recast in a modern setting — is all a film needs to sell it to the public once again.
Sparkle (Estimated release: 2013)
A successful singing group made up of sisters must cope with the ups and downs of fame, including drugs.
Salim Akil’s last film, “Jumping the Broom,” was a surprise hit with a total box office haul of over $37 million with a $6.6 million budget. After that kind of success, Akil was empowered to write his own ticket. His project of choice? A “Sparkle” remake with a cast led by Whitney Houston in a comeback role and Jordin Sparks as the youthful star. This highly anticipated remake has been in the works for quite some time.
By Torri R. Oats
The recent release of the movie version of “The Help” has caused a firestorm of cinema commentary. More than anything, “The Help” has re-ignited a debate on the recurring role of the “mammy”in film over the decades, and the evolution of the African-American woman in the movie world. Black leading ladies and execs behind the scenes in the feature film industry still lag far behind their Caucasian counterparts. Yet, there is hope. Black actresses of yesteryear have already done the heavy lifting, struggling through a Hollywood system that fought against their grace and dignity — sometimes playing “mammy” to make a way. The next generation built on their power, and never looked back. Because of them, more African-American women than ever are able to realize their dreams in front of and behind the cameras. We celebrate these women for their contributions to black film history. Here is how African-American ladies have gone from being “The Help” to the boss — more than ever before — in the Hollywood system.
The Foundation: Roberta Hyson
To understand how far we’ve come, and in some ways, how far we have to go, one needs to return to the beginning and explore the roads traveled by Hollywood’s black female trailblazers. “Melancholy Dame,” a short from 1928 was made at the beginning of the “talkie” era, featuring the triple threat, Roberta Hyson. Ms. Hyson, the first African-American woman in a theatrically released film, was known not for her portrayal of a mammy or any variation of such, but as an actress who portrayed positive characters in black cinema. As one half a comedic duo formed with another talkie actress, Evelyn Preer, she was able to showcase all three of her “threats”: singing, dancing and acting. Thanks to Paramount pictures, which released many of these African-American talkies, Ms. Hyson’s work can still be enjoyed today. Roberta Hyson laid the very foundation for black women in film.
(The Independent) — Well, it’s a pretty fair exchange: in exchange for not being able to walk around in the mall, you can buy everything in it.” Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, is fairly relaxed about the price of fame. Nor does he have to worry about heeding the mantra of his first album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Album sales galore, a burgeoning film and writing career and several sound investments – including a multi-million dollar payday when the vitamin water company he had shares in sold to Coca-Cola – have seen the latest estimates of his wealth hit half a billion dollars. Eight years after his debut album turned the former New York drugs-runner into an international superstar, the 36-year old proffers the following assessment of his wealth and success: “I see money as a facilitator,” he elaborates. “If airlines don’t have a plane that goes to where you want to go, a private jet will. If a studio doesn’t go after a project and think it’s the right project for right now, I can go and get it made. I think that to some people I may appear a little off, but they’re just not on the same page as me.”
Instead of waiting for Hollywood’s permission — and dollars — these artists are giving themselves the green light to produce their own online series.
When filmmaker and actress Hannelore Williams decided it was time to put her many talents to use and make ‘Queen Hussy,’ a coming-of-age film that would hopefully open doors, she enlisted her fellow NYU film school alum Pete Chatmon. She and Chatmon, who had previously directed Zoe Saldana in the movie ‘Premium,’ went to sunny Los Angeles earlier this year – but not to pitch the project to movie studios. They went to Hollywood to shoot an original web series.
Leaving behind “development hell” – an industry term for having your project wait in the wings for an executive to approve it – black producers like these are instead using unique web-based projects to “green light” themselves. The implications are profound. They are building audiences, sharpening their skills and finding their voices.
Off the set, Chatmon runs Double 7 Images, a full-service multimedia company that helps small and large businesses build their brands online. When Williams and Chatmon wrap production on ‘Queen Hussy,’ they will promote the series through his company. Their goal, he tells The Atlanta Post, is to “get eyeballs” or large numbers of viewers. “The web is less a place where you end up and more a place you can design content for. It is not a wasteland of cute kitten videos. If [a content producer] is smart, you can position your work for fully-customized web delivery.”
For black content producers, the potential to reach audiences via the web grows daily. The 2010 Pew Internet & American Life report “Teens and Mobile Phones” notes that African-American teens are accessing the web by mobile phone at twice the rate of their white peers. Across all races, roughly a third of teens use their mobile phones to share videos and go online. With these shifts, diverse populations of users will expect Internet content to reflect their interests.
In recent years it seems that Hollywood has finally started to recognize not just the amazing talent of some of today’s top Black actors, but also their bank-ability at the box office. Black male leads have started to command big bucks in the entertainment industry, and it looks as if they will only become more powerful as mainstream audiences continue showing them big love. These heavy hitters are starring in some of the silver screen’s hottest blockbusters, grabbing the most desired roles, and flexing their talents all the way to the bank. Check out the industry’s highest paid Black leading men, who are lighting up Tinseltown while happily stuffing their pockets.
The All-Round Entertainer: Jamie Foxx
This triple-threat has been on the entertainment scene for over 20 years, starting off his career as a comedian on TV shows like “Roc” and “In Living Color” in the early ’90s. Since then, Foxx has starred in several films and become a box office success, solidifying his A-List status with his 2004 Academy Award win for the lead in “Ray.” Foxx is now a strong Hollywood contender, gaining impressive salaries like the $10 million pay out he snagged for 2006′s “Miami Vice.” Jamie has also recently beat out actors Will Smith, Idris Elba, and Chris Tucker to win the coveted lead role of ‘Django’ in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Western flick, “Django Unchained.” To top it all off, this top black male actor is also an accomplished R&B singer. Foxx is worth an estimated $80 million — definitely something to sing about.
Rarely in Hollywood do we see many African-Americans sitting in an executive’s chair, but DeVon Franklin is an exception. As vice president of production with Columbia Pictures, Franklin has had a hand in bringing to life many box office hits, most notably “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “The Karate Kid.” Outside of his responsibilities in Hollywood, Franklin is also a motivational speaker and Christian minister. Coming up, Franklin has two big projects—the first is his book, “Produced By Faith: Navigating the Road to Success Without Compromising Your True Self,” which hits bookshelves on May 3rd; and his latest film project, “Jumping The Broom,” which premieres in theaters May 6th. We spoke to Franklin about his rise through the ranks in Hollywood and the message he wants people to take from his book.