The number one topic in the black community has always been discrimination. With the release of the movie “Red Tails” the debate was sparked once again, but this time by George Lucas. Does Hollywood discriminate against black actors and actresses, short answer yes, but is it more complicated than a simple yes.

If you believe George Lucas, one can agree that there maybe a huge economic reason why black actors aren’t hired and black films aren’t being made. However, if you look at Tyler Perry, you could also agree that producing a movie for $5 million, and earning $50 million is a huge profit margin for a black film. So is Lucas’ reason valid, or just a cover for our social colorism.

We aren’t talking about humorous time wasting, escapism movies like the Soul Plane’s, BAPS and Metor Man movies of the black universe, because there are many great black movies and many successful black actors and actresses in Hollywood and many of them have starring roles.

There is a noticeable absence of starring roles for blacks in big budget cinema. There are underlying reasons one you are trying to get and awards but you keep having parts in films with ensemble casts (that’s not going to work), and some of these black actors can’t act. Yes I said it and it’s not hate or shade. Some of these actors have had sitcoms on the air for years, and they still can’t act. This is where the rest of the problem lies.

If an actor has been in many films and T.V shows over the years and still can’t act, something is wrong. It’s not like these “actors” don’t have the time, or the money. Many less talented actors have rabid fans, lets be honest, most of them got their shot because of their body, dancing, singing/rapping or their cuteness, which is fine when your ten years old, but not when you’re in your 20’s in Hollywood trying to win an award.

No one calls out these actors for bad performances, because many believe there are too few blacks working in Hollywood to begin with, so the criticism is held back because of a lack of on-screen representation. Well that may well be the case, but a horrible performance is horrible no matter how you color it.

If you’ve had years of practice and you aren’t studying your craft you can’t complain about the lack of black roles. I am talking about the LisaRaye Mccoy’s and Stacey Dash’s of the black acting world and the other high profile types, LL Cool J, Ice Tea, Brandy, Bokeem Woodbine, Allen Payne, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Halle Berry, Marcus T. Paulk, T.I., Elijah Kelley, etc.

They expect black people to go to see a movie, just because there are black people in it. You would think that there are only a handful of black actors and actresses, there are many. The good ones have a greater discerning about the quality of roles they will accept. Then there are “the other actors” most of these actors aren’t being asked to pull off a “Glory”, “Ray”, “Men in Black”, “Hotel Rwanda” or “Malcolm X” role, not that every role needs to be, and they have trouble with that. A good actor can take the smallest of role, and make it stand out, otherwise you are a glorified extra.

And then the cry goes out “We aren’t getting the kind of roles we want,” “Why aren’t we getting Oscar nominations.” Here is where Tyler Perry is smart, he surrounds himself with better talent, the same thing Will Smith discovered early on. If you are waiting for someone to write a role and hopefully cast you in it, keep hoping.

You can’t go see Tyler Perry films in droves, making him the number one Black actor draw, and them complain about how Blacks aren’t getting nominated for the Oscars. The Oscars are white, and everyone else has a limited opportunity to make an impression so make the most of it. You want thinks to change be the change.

Discrimination/racism plays a part in why blacks don’t get some roles, but not studying the craft is why we get shut out of the other role, and the Oscars. To acknowledge that white privilege exist is also to acknowledge that America is not a meritocracy. Your protest and “boycott” will add a few minorities to the movie mix but once again the stigma of interracial relationships rises, after all, it isn’t just white people that cannot handle depictions of blackness.

If the casting is not done based on ability, does it really count? Do we really want movie roles based on affirmative action? If the only thing a moviegoer can say about a film is “She looked hot”, “the effects were awesome”,”Support this film because it’s black”, or “Such in such has really grown up”, the coding is that the movie wasn’t very good.

This is not to say that horrible white actors such as, Orlando Bloom, Natalie Portman, Megan Fox, Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson,  Keanu Reeves, Kim Kardashian, etc… aren’t given starring opportunities in Hollywood because they are. they get roles their talent clearly shows they don’t deserve, but most of them are smart enough to surround themselves, in films, with better acting talent.

This lack of talent can not be solved by more financing and better distribution of black films, or by the hiring of black directors, black writers or black grifters. The future Washington’s, Woodard’s, Earl Jone’s, Bassett’s,  Freeman’s, Fishburne’s, Davis’, Pounders’, Glover’s, Williams, and Pointer’s are already here in Tarji P. Henson, Larenz Tate, Mekhi Phifer, Don Cheadle, Idris Elba, Jurnee Smolett, Michael B Jordan, Anthony Mackie, Gabriel Union, Sanaa Latham, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ryan CooglerKeke Palmer, Columbus Short and others.

These are the actors and directors we should be following and posting about. These are the black people who have shown their pedigree on film, they have not settled for mediocrity and are working on the craft. Hollywood has always took a stand against the fickle whims of an ill-informed society, in most cases Hollywood goes along with social prejudices, so if Hollywood is showing a racial regressive side, then America is as well.

Hollywood and America must realize that Blacks don’t have to be covered up or standing with a white person for validation on film of off it. Blacks don’t have to always be shown as an alien or comic relief. Blacks already struggle against invisibility and I implore producers to give more lead roles based on ability and not skin color. I call on casting agents to view talent more than popularity. I call on audiences to support good films and good directors. I call on Hollywood to write colorless scripts and stop marketing movies based on race. I call on these things because we will all be better off for it.

MG Hardie

 

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