Where Have All The Black Girls Gone?
Can somebody please make this brother a sandwich, pronto! (And pour him a tall glass of sweet lemonade while you're at it.) This is Mark H. Harris. He writes a column for PopMatters.com called Yelling at the Screen and he wrote this great article last December (don't know how I missed it) called Where Have All The Black Girls Gone?
He has some great advice for black actresses to use for solving their perpetual M.I.A. status in Hollywood:
The quality of black women's roles have reached dire proportions. There's something inherently wrong with the fact that there've been more movies this decade starring Nick Cannon than Angela Bassett. And as great as Kimberly Elise was in Diary of a Mad Black Woman, it doesn't make up for the fact that the main draw of the film was a dude in a dress. The way I see it, there are a few options that black actresses can pursue:
Solution #1: Kick black actors' asses. The few who might actually have some say in casting haven't always shown much sympathy for the cause: Will Smith in Hitch, Ice Cube in Next Friday, Denzel in Out of Time and Training Day. Jada Pinkett needs to climb up on her husband's shoulders and box his ears. Does he not care that his wife can't get a job unless he gives it to her? Does he not care that the less work she gets as an actress, the more work she gets as a singer? I'm sure Denzel's wife must've told him that if he puts Eva Mendes in one more movie, she'd cut him off at the knees.
Solution #2: There's no quicker way to get a black man's attention than to not date a black man. Ask Garcelle Beauvais, Kerry Washington, Aisha Tyler, Thandie Newton, or Tyra Banks. The goal is twofold: one, you'll get noticed by the few black men who have some pull in the industry. Two, you'll infiltrate the non-black power structure; it's the Hollywood way (Near Vine way; take a right past the hooker.).
Solution #3: Being black in America is like being gay in that you can't be "a little black" or "a little gay", so the solution is simple: try not to look black. Witness: Vin Diesel, The Rock, Jennifer Beals, Mariah Carey, and Rashida Jones. And if you can't pass for "other", at least try to be light-skinned enough to play the love interest in an Eddie Murphy film.
Solution #4: Boycott. Who are they gonna get to play their attitudinal hookers, their attitudinal welfare mothers, and their attitudinal authoritarian cock blockers (loan officers, judges, DMV workers, et al.)?
Solution #5: Try not to make movies like Woo, B*A*P*S, or Glitter.
Hopefully, my advice can help black actresses gain some leverage in the industry and put a positive black female face on Hollywood so that black women worldwide will take pride in these roles and feel more secure about their future in this world.