All Articles Tagged "Juliette Fairley"
The phrase “tragic mulatto” doesn’t conjure up negative emotions without reason but if there is one place where it pays—literally—to be a biracial woman, it’s Hollywood. Juliette Fairley, the child of a white mother and black father, doesn’t quite see it that way.
Shadow and Act recently published a press release from the actress who has decided to write, produce, and star in a series of short films titled, Mulatto Saga, Juliette Fairley’s Mulatto’s Dilemma, and Juliette Fairley’s Diary of a Mulatto Bride, and though the sheer use of the word mulatta, let alone the subject matter sounds a little 18th century vintage, Ms. Fairley insists this genre of film is necessary. She even got biracial actress Jasmine Guy along for the ride because as Fairley puts it:
“There’s a lack of roles in Hollywood for biracial women. So, I create my own content that I star in and in the process I create work for other actors of all races, genders and nationalities.”
I’ll just let that first sentence sink in for a bit. I understand everyone has to carve out a niche that makes them relevant and I won’t discredit the biracial struggle or even the lack of modern-day depictions of the issues women of mixed heritage face; however to say that there is a lack of roles for biracial women in Hollywood is just wrong plain and simple. Did Juliette Fairley miss the memo? Biracial is the new black honey.
One doesn’t have to look very deeply to see that there is only one acceptable hue and hair texture in Hollywood and it is that of the biracial woman—and it is that reality that is actually quite deep. It’s not even so much Halle Berry getting roles over say Viola Davis or Paula Patton becoming the greatest thing since sliced bread while Nia Long has been absent from the big screen for years (minus “Mooz-lum”), it’s the reality that non-biracial black women take second fiddle to mixed women even when it comes to being cast in parts that are clearly meant to represent a woman of sole African or African American heritage.
Less than a month ago we exposed the blatant colorism in the “Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter” film in which fair-skinned Jacqueline Fleming, a Copenhagen, Denmark-born actress of African American and Danish-German descent was chosen to play Harriet Tubman, a dark-skinned African Ashanti slave. Regardless of the mythical nature of the film, the choice to cast Fleming for the part proves the fallacy of the “it’s hard out here for a mulatta” meme Fairley wants us to buy into. It’s quite obvious that Fleming’s role was that of eye candy in the fantasy horror film and since it would have been too ridiculous to cast a completely white woman—although the nature of the entire film is quite far-fetched—a light-skinned woman of black and white ancestry was the next best thing to play the heroic slave figure.
You could even use the controversial casting of half-English, half-Zimbabwean Thandie Newtorn as an Igbo woman in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun” to disprove Fairley’s point. As petitioners pointed out in their protest of the casting, yes Igbo people come in all shades of brown but none are like that of the biracial actress. When Africans can’t even get roles playing characters of African descent (Jennifer Hudson and the “Winnie” casting directors I’m looking at you), let alone Black Americans being allowed to take on characters without a light is right slant, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for the plight of the biracial actress, particularly when Fairley is trying to dredge up more empathy with such an antiquated term as mulatta.
It’s not the 1700s, mixed people no longer have to try to “pass” to be accepted in Hollywood or even the broader society. In fact, they’re at the top of the casting list no matter the medium, be it acting, singing, or modeling, due to their exotic features and ability to be black, but not really, when appearing on screen or in print. I know some would like us to think it’s simply because their light skin eliminates such hassles as having to adjust lighting to complement darker complexions (Acura I’m looking at you) but we all know it’s a little bit deeper than that. Issues certainly still remain when it comes to accepting biracial individuals, but let’s be clear, it’s the black community that still struggles with divisive attitudes and charges that people of mixed heritage act “too white” or aren’t down enough. Hollywood on the other hand welcomes them with open arms. I’ve yet to see a light-skinned or biracial woman complain she can’t find a decent role in Hollywood but the names of dark-skinned black woman who’ve repeatedly expressed that sentiment would roll off my tongue like bidding numbers at an auction if someone were to ask me.
We all need to tell our stories, and if Fairley has the means and the opportunity to tell hers then by all means she should do so—just don’t present it under the false guise of biracial discrimination. Let’s also not divide the black community any further than it already is. Though I’d like to say someone needs to put forth a concerted effort to employ darker-skinned actresses, let’s just work on showcasing the many facets of black women overall. We come in all shapes, shades, and sizes, let’s see that on the screen instead of segmenting ourselves further.
What do you think about Juliette Fairley’s film ideas and her claim that there’s a lack of roles in Hollywood for biracial women?
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