The magnificent Viola Davis flew in like a sphinx — resembling the Angela Bassett of our days. Dark-skinned, thick-lipped and ample substance of talent and beauty that is often woefully mistaken for the roles that don’t require such potent responsibility to the craft without the Hollywood stamp of approval.
Let’s talk about Janelle Monae.
The gorgeous figurine that the industry would’ve have bequeathed as the latest ingénue — but such honors are saved for pale skinned/blue eyed fairies that filter in with memorized sentences and body language — that signal the attachment to White leading men who can’t wait to melt into the snow of privilege.
Monae should have been nominated for an Academy Award. She was supposed to be poised for a career filled with a slate of romantic comedies, horror entries and the challenges of being human — that don’t ever summon the game of race or thickness of skin outside the gorgeous rhetoric of being.
Women’s History Month is a beautiful ceremony of sorts. The only caveat lies in the way we as women react to each other.
There is a simple divide amongst the colors of the rainbow.
In Hollywood, White actresses are safely removed from the disarray of trying to express themselves without the triteness of authority standing in their way. They adore this position and take it seriously while neglecting their comrades who struggle mightily to keep up with the acknowledgement that they pale in comparison to the competition.
Black actresses keep the script intact with resolute enthusiasm.
You see it in Taraji. You feel it with Gugu and Thandie. You can’t escape the sweet wrath of Viola, Lupita, Kerry, Gabrielle, Tessa, Aja Naomi, Teyonah, and the legions of talent embroidered with the texture of skin that dictate the steps taken towards elusive stardom.
Angela Bassett had her time and thankfully the extension won’t be thwarted. There are many others in her pod who can look back with the assurance of a career that began on shaky ground but eventually found a steady course towards respect.
But, as we know the days begin and end without input to extend or minimize.
Women’s History Month should encompass all women regardless of Allah, Buddha, Jehovah or dreadlocks. But, as we know, this is a tall order.
As Award season comes to a close — we can’t avoid the stimulation of thought that erects how easy it is to abide by the handouts that are dished out with gorgeous delight.
Octavia Spencer scored an Oscar nomination for a film that wasn’t Oscar worthy and a performance that did nothing to prove how or why her name was added to the illustrious list.
Her nomination was a lazy way for esteemed voters to feel good about selecting the safest choice of the bunch. Heaven forbid they apply the logic usually rendered to White actresses — who have the roles that demand such scrutiny.
If this had been the case— Janelle Monae would have enjoyed the recognition she worked hard for — and that would lead to opportunities that would make Emma Stone blush — because she would be able to do that beautifully.
Women need to unite on all fronts.
It can’t be The Women’s March on Washington — under the blaze of armed dignitaries that scream for justice with the security of bribed cops.
And the support of those who are nowhere to be found — when women of color scream in vain for the children they lost — under the gun fire of a nation that demands to be quenched.
It has to be make believe and the real shit under the same curtain call that won’t descend until the scene has been thoroughly dealt with.
We need Black actresses to act out the stories that sway with the human touch that doesn’t always requite historical references but can also benefit from a handy song and dance or the quiet of the stream running through as the wind stops at her Afro.
We have amazingly astute Black women filmmakers like Ava DuVernay, Amma Asante, Gina Prince-Blythewood, and more who are trailblazing the herd of magnificence on behalf of the sisters-in-waiting.
So, we need White women to honestly meet up with Black women in an open way so that the collaboration feels sisterly and not influenced by an emptiness that destroys what needs to be without the preview of hope and power.
It’s really about all of us coming together for creativity and imagination.
That’s why it all begins with Black women in Hollywood. The cradle of storytelling and the dreams that come alive — despite the insurmountable odds.
Just ask Viola.