Blacks Actors

922 Words4 Pages
Black actors, since the beginning of cinema have struggled to get the attention and credit from the Academy. Several times, my personal heroes where forced to compromise their grandiose acting ability for small “mammy” and “sambo” characters. We were forced to the back and never really given a chance to shine in the spotlight. Discrimination against African Americans even plagued children’s cartoons.

In my paper I would like to cover how, black actors, especially women, are being discriminated against in the roles they are given to play. Granted that the roles have expanded from “mammy” and “Aunt Jemima”, we are still not given leading roles. And the leading roles that they do receive often do not accredit the black community as having strong women. We are often cast as crazy girlfriends, crack-addicted prostitutes, or some “hoochie mamma” that has seven different baby fathers. An excellent film that depicted a strong black woman, maybe not apparent at first, would be The Color Purple. There is no reason that Whoopi Goldberg or Oprah Winfrey should not have an Oscar for their phenomenal performance. Also I would like to show that when black actresses receive recognition for roles, they are usually for supporting actress.

In 74 years of Oscar history, only one African American woman has won for best actress in a film, Halle Berry. Moreover, only three black women have ever won an Oscar: Hattie McDaniel, Whoopi Goldberg and Halle Berry; two of which have been for supporting actress. But should this news come as a surprise when only 26 African Americans have ever been nominated, and only seven of us taking home the glory? This startling fact should make ones mind start to wonder about equality amongst the Academy. Additionally, the characters that these women received Oscars for were roles in which these strong women were shadowed behind the roles of their fellow white actors.

For my first paper, I would like to focus on one stereotype commonly seen of African American women, on and off screen- the typical "mammy" character. The mammy is a large, robust woman who is often reduced to being defined solely as a child-care provider, a surrogate mother, servant, or cook. The mammy image originated in the south during slavery and is an image seen even now. “When the physical and emotional make-up of mammy is examined it is clear that she is the antithesis of the American conception of womanhood.

More about Blacks Actors

Open Document