Thursday, February 15, 2018

African American Women in Hollywood

The lecture from Dr. Palmer and the articles that we read about African-American women and their place in Hollywood really opened my eyes to a certain racism that I never thought too deeply about.  The entertaining world seems to be a very judgmental place, based primarily on your looks and physical attributes.  Unfortunately the entertainment business is more focused on what looks better to the audience than what actresses could really be the best at the role.  African-American women are primarily the most discriminated in the entertainment business and this is something that needs to change.  The actress who can play the role the best should be able to have the ability to be that role, it should not be the actresses that looks the best for the role.  The auditions and judging for the roles should make everyone equal and should be determined by the quality of the individuals performance.  

I thought Dr. Palmer did an excellent job introducing us to these issues in the entertainment world.  I would never have thought about these things while watching a TV show or movie, but after listening and participating in the lecture, it is definitely something you can notice.  During and after the lecture I was able to think back to the older movies that I've seen, and did notice that there were very few African-American women in major key and lead roles.  I think that in todays entertainment, this issue of discrimination between roles is less frequent than it was 27 years ago, but after reading the articles it is still stunning to me how present this issue still is in the decision factor.  


It doesn't surprise me that "it takes black actresses a longer time to achieve the same milestones as their white counterparts, even when they have the same or more experience".  This quote is from Nicole Perkins' article Twice As Good: How Black Actresses Get Half The Recognition.  The African-American Actresses are already at a disadvantage from fame because of the difficulties that come with earning major roles, but unfortunately  it comes hand in hand with the difficulties of earning that fame after being awarded the major roles.  It was also pretty sickening that depending on the shade of an African-American women's skin could "determine" how pretty she was.  If their skin was lighter, and resembled a white women as much as possible, she was considered more beautiful.  The women with a darker shade if skin weren't considered not as beautiful and were given more commanding roles.  These issues of discrimination in the entertainment industry are ones that need to be changed because we all know today, that the color of your skin does not define you but your character, personality and abilities are what define you. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Black Women in Hollywood

There is no way to hide the differences between the white women in Hollywood to the black women in Hollywood. They are asked to do different roles, also there are much less oppurunities for black women when looking for roles. I do not recall her name but one of the women from the video with Opera, she explains that there is a role for white women at 20 years old, 30, 40, and so on while all black women are put into the same group to look for roles. My brother is an actor in New York and I have learned from him that it is hard enough to make it as an actor in either theatrical or on television or movies. To already be two steps back when trying out for these roles makes it even harder to make a living off being an actor. This is not new for black actors as this coversation has been happening since the earliest days of Hollywood and there as only been a little improvment. "Black women are depicted as being angry, and bitchy, and fighting.... So can white women." Black actors in general are shown in the most steriotyocal light possible as shown as thugs, drug addicts or people living in poverty while the white actors are not always shown in the same light as they seem to have more diverse roles. There is no doubt that there is blatant racism in the film industry becasause a producer can look specifally for people he wants and he can say no or yes for any reason he wants. This can make it easy to exclude black actors in general even if they are as well suited for a position as a white person.
Black women have had to overcome racism for as long as they have had to live and this is something that needs to change for the better in order for us as a country to really unite. To give these women less roles and to blatantly show that they may not seem as qualified for a role when they clearly are is doing them a massive diservice when they work just as hard as white women looking for roles but they are looked over just based off of their color.

Whitewashing in Hollywood

Race in media has always been a sort of interesting topic because of the nuances of storytelling and popularized culture of art within Hollywood. As Dr. Palmer mentioned in class, the industry is filled with very specific roles cut out for very specific people. I think the reason this is such an issue to begin with is that these stories are meant to hold truth. They are depicted and shown as a sort of reflections of reality, and therein lies what I think is the problem. Movies are glamorous escapes into a different story that may never be ours but could very well be real. It feels real anyway, that’s what makes a good movie. You have to buy into it, and it almost becomes a space for exploration and reflection and a realm in which we can explore ideas and concepts while keeping a certain distance. The issue is that these spaces don’t exist for everyone. Granted, it’s impossible to capture everyone’s unique story, but when Hollywood continues to present a certain character for specific people over and over and over in its movies, you buy into it. It’s a dangerous way for people to project their ideas of reality onto someone else, and it’s probably the most powerful way to internalize oppression because you realize from a very young age that you don’t have space in this reality or in another. It’s a very scary thing.

One story can be a very powerful way to represent a group of people and I’m sure that through empathy, people are able to find threads of their own realities in someone else’s, but when even the stories we glamorize and market reject and ignore entire populations of people where do they go? If that one story becomes the only narrative for a people, then it’s only clear how few the opportunities would be. Growing up, the only asian person in a movie I knew was Mulan. And she was animated. Later I knew Christina, but they took her off of Greys, and then there was Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels but there was a very clear hole. I got my fill of my own people’s stories by reading stories and watching movies from Korea, I grew up on Korean shows and movies because that was what was familiar. There in which there were white people, which I always thought was odd. I watched what everyone else was watching, but the thing is my mom even though she grew up in Korea grew up with Hollywood movies. But that was also because of the American oppression of Korean cinema, which wouldn’t wear off until around the 2000s with new laws that would force Koreans to watch and make Korean movies.

I grew up in Utah, and everyone, I kid you not, everyone in my class thought I was an alien. They asked me if they could touch me and how I lived and did regular things like eating and getting to school. One kid asked me if I was in the military, another asked if I was really super smart. That was the first time they had ever seen an Asian person. Even then, they thought I was shipped from China. I kid you not, those were their exact words. We were seven and I was called the China Doll in everything I did. They also just assumed I was adopted, which was a whole other thing altogether. But the thing is, the media voices aspects of reality. These kids had no idea there were realities outside of their own because they never had any exposure to them.

The articles highlighted the obvious lack of opportunity to begin with in movies. We simply don’t have enough different roles for minorities. You have to be twice as good to even get a shot, and it’s a naturally competitive thing. I loved Gabrielle Union’s speech so much because it shot it all down. Hollywood pushes people down into boxes, and has kept people out of the narrative, written over stories with romanticized versions of history, and pushed white faces into stories that never should have been. Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorite movies, and I was beyond disappointed with Hollywood’s rendition for a number of reasons, but the main being the fact that Scarlett Johansson, as amazing of an actor she is, was simply not a good fit.  I'm not going to point all factors to racism, because I understand that the movie makers are constantly asking as we did in our activity, "Is this bankable?" I think the greatest disappointment could be summarized by Keiko Agena from a Hollywood Reporter interview. “As a fan, as a human Asian-American, I want to see that star being born. That was the part that hurt… This is such a star-making vehicle. And they can find people ...this could have made a young, kick-ass Asian actress out there a Hollywood name and star.”

The issue is Hollywood is not willing to take risks and create that space, be it for whatever reason and honestly, we can just find it elsewhere because that’s how it was always done. But I think the younger generations are getting tired of looking elsewhere and of waiting and waiting and getting fed disappointment by the spoonful.

On another note: whitewashing in Hollywood can be seen even in the names actors choose for themselves. And it’s not just Hollywood, it’s everyone. An article about Chloe Bennet’s own choice to change her name states, “A 2016 study that looked at the US labour market, for example, found that minorities who modify their CVs to remove information that hints at their ethnicity (a practice known as “résumé whitening”) are more than twice as likely to get a follow-up interview as those who don’t.” Chloe says that she gained so many more roles after the name change. We see it happen at Govs, my mom did it too. There’s a pervasiveness to whitewashing, it’s not only prevalent to Hollywood. Our movies are a reflection of the reality, It just so happens to be that Hollywood reflects that reality as well. "I think the hope lies in the voices that are emerging, that are open and bold about the situation. People who are willing and who call out Hollywood on the system and the pigeonholing, and their outward and open anger and frustration. I’m so excited about Black Panther, and I’m hoping for a lot with the live-action remake of Mulan. I don't think there is just one main reason colored people are being blocked out of Hollywood, but the issue is clear that there are simply not enough roles and opportunities. I think things are slowly changing, because the audience is changing so much. We need stories that will continue to show us different realities, not the same story pushed through the machine over and over. And I do believe that it’s all changing, slowly but surely. Mainly because the demand is increasing, and Hollywood finds it can spare to invest in more diverse stories and casts.We just have to keep changing the way we see the world and the way we want to be shown the world.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/01/chloe-bennet-right-hollywood-racism-wrong-change-name-whitewash

Should I Shoot For The Stars?

It is not a secret nor does it come as a surprise that black women are underrepresented, and that when they are shown, they are overwhelmingly misrepresented. All three articles we read highlighted that race and hollywood need to confront one another and are in desperate need of engaging in an honest conversation. I was most impacted by the following quotes from the articles. Nichole Perkins wrote "The film industry's racial bias often means that it takes black actresses a longer time to achieve the same milestones as their white counterparts, even when they have the same or more experience." Joy Horowitz wrote that Ms.Whitfield commented "I've got to make sure my displeasure with the industry doesn't dishearten me. It's just a love of the craft that keeps you from turning into a horrible banshee." Lastly, Arienne Thomspon wrote " 'This conversation is an old conversation', says actress/choreographer/producer/director Debbie Allen. 'Unfortunately, we just keeping having (it) over and over and over. It's like raising a child that doesn't listen... We have to keep going over it." All of these articles are written at least 4 years a part of one another and the oldest was published in 1991. It is 2018, and still the articles emphasize the need for black actresses to play leading roles or to at least get a platform. More opportunities have opened up and yest still they are still amazingly underrepresented. It does not matter if you're good enough or if you are better, because of something so trivial like being black and a women, you will fall short in Hollywood.

What hope does that give young black girls like me to be in Hollywood? Growing up, I rarely saw a black girl that looked like me on tv and consequently I did not have someone on tv to aspire to be. When I internalized that, it diminished and restricted my drive and goals, respectively. What hope does that give me to pursue being a legislator and to major in Public Policy and Administration? Women rarely have a seat at the table but a black women is almost unheard of. But times are changing and I hope that when the opportunity comes I'll be fully confident and able to shoot for the stars, without falling short.

African-American Women and their Place in Hollywood

The lecture from Dr. Palmer and the articles that we read about African-American women and their place in Hollywood really opened my eyes to a certain racism that I never thought too deeply about.  The entertaining world seems to be a very judgmental place, based primarily on your looks and physical attributes.  Unfortunately the entertainment business is more focused on what looks better to the audience than what actresses could really be the best at the role.  African-American women are primarily the most discriminated in the entertainment business and this is something that needs to change.  The actress who can play the role the best should be able to have the ability to be that role, it should not be the actresses that looks the best for the role.  The auditions and judging for the roles should make everyone equal and should be determined by the quality of the individuals performance.  

I thought Dr. Palmer did an excellent job introducing us to these issues in the entertainment world.  I would never have thought about these things while watching a TV show or movie, but after listening and participating in the lecture, it is definitely something you can notice.  During and after the lecture I was able to think back to the older movies that I've seen, and did notice that there were very few African-American women in major key and lead roles.  I think that in todays entertainment, this issue of discrimination between roles is less frequent than it was 27 years ago, but after reading the articles it is still stunning to me how present this issue still is in the decision factor.  


It doesn't surprise me that "it takes black actresses a longer time to achieve the same milestones as their white counterparts, even when they have the same or more experience".  This quote is from Nicole Perkins' article Twice As Good: How Black Actresses Get Half The Recognition.  The African-American Actresses are already at a disadvantage from fame because of the difficulties that come with earning major roles, but unfortunately  it comes hand in hand with the difficulties of earning that fame after being awarded the major roles.  It was also pretty sickening that depending on the shade of an African-American women's skin could "determine" how pretty she was.  If their skin was lighter, and resembled a white women as much as possible, she was considered more beautiful.  The women with a darker shade if skin weren't considered not as beautiful and were given more commanding roles.  These issues of discrimination in the entertainment industry are ones that need to be changed because we all know today, that the color of your skin does not define you but your character, personality and abilities are what define you.  

Women of Color in Hollywood

As a young boy, my father always told me that in order to make it in life I would have to be twice as good at everything I did. This is commonly told to black and colored youth as a way of explaining in layman's terms how racism works.  It is no question that racism has not ended in the United States. Although it does not present itself in the same ways it used to it is still noticed when you are paying attention to the things around you. When you look at the racism in the country, women of color have a particularly difficult time because of race and gender. Finding work is harder and the idea that they need to be twice as good to succeed is emphasized even more for them.
                  In the film industry, the first Oscar Awards were held in 1929, it took until 1964 in order for a black male to win the best actor in a leading role. It took another 38 years for a woman of color to win the best actress in a leading role, which was Halle Berry. This shows the difficult time women of color have had in the workforce and more specifically in Hollywood.
                  There is a large part of this issue attributed to stereotypes. Acting is all about judging a person by their looks and how they “fit” a role. This allows blatant racism in the filmmaking industry when casting certain roles. It is customary for black men and women to be given roles of thugs, impoverished people, and servants. Although they were demeaning roles, some actors were so desperate to represent their culture and make changes to the film industry, they would take whatever they could get. There has been progression due to the boom of African American directors such as Spike Lee and Tyler Perry who have paved the way for more actors and actresses to gain exposure through their works and be hired in the future.
For example in the article “Twice as Good: How black Actresses Get Half the Recognition” Nichole Perkins says,
“Tessa Thompson-only now considered a rising star after her notable performances in Selma, Dear White People, and Creed — will appear as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok... at 33, she has steadily been working in television and film since playing Jackie Cook on the Veronica Mars television series at 22. More than 10 years later, she has finally been given the chance to be ‘bankable.’ ”
This shows the grit and amount of work it takes for an actress of color to make it big.  We also see how easy it is for white male actors such as Nicolas Cage to acquire roles. He not only got his first lead role in Moonstruck due to his relation to Francis Ford Coppola, a well-known producer. But he was nominated for a Golden Globe after a very subpar performance. After the nomination, he did not win but he was still given so many acting opportunities that he blew repeatedly.
                  The takeaway from this is to recognize that it truly is harder for women of color, specifically black women to acquire roles that are empowering or to even find roles at all that are available to them. Hollywood is not in a good place or the place it should be but it is definitely making progress.

African American Actresses Role in Hollywood



After reading the three articles and understanding the general themes and tone addressing the issue of roles for African American woman in Hollywood. This was illuminated throughout all three of the articles, however, I then became intrigued by the dates in which the articles were published. Perhaps this for me was more troublesome than the absolutely shocking facts and statistics within the articles regarding black female actress’ and their roles in Hollywood. The dates of the published articles were 1991, 2013, and 2017, the span of years in which this issue is still being addressed in the media is 28 years. It is baffling to think this is still a problem in today’s culture, but clearly, it, has not been addressed and what happened in 1991 is still happening today. Woman African American actresses within the 2017 Buzzfeed Article, “‘The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” This is very familiar to the issue being addressed in 1991 The New York Times article, “‘I’d like to see someone focus on a black woman’s story.’ Said Lynn Whitfield.”


Although, it has been 28 years since the first article has been published. There is still no change in the industry. There are still no roles for African American women. Although a solution is in sight with the role of writers creating more female African American roles, this is only the beginning and the first step to fixing the problem. Shonda Rhimes is one of the most popular writers who is breaking down these barriers as she wrote Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and other projects with ABC. She creates no barriers to the roles she creates, giving everyone an equal opportunity, which is not seen in Hollywood.


Mentioned within Ms. Palmer’s lecture and the articles the color or shade of African Americans are also stereotyped in Hollywood. Within our own lives, we see light skin toned African Americans playing beautiful roles, while darker skin toned African Americans aren’t sought out for those roles. Through the media, tv, and movies this stereotype is soaring through our society. In our own lives we hear ‘she is beautiful’ or ‘gorgeous’ when a young light skin tone woman is playing the love interest or protagonist. While darker skin tones play a stronger role in movies and tv and hear, ‘she is so strong’ or ‘intelligent’ or even ‘wonderful’ but never ‘beautiful’. However, we all know race does not define beauty, strength, or intelligence, but the media, movies, and tv create an illusion that impacts our lives.