Black Actress Update: Props to Queen Latifah For Making ‘Joyful Noise’

About Us For Us

I saw the movie Joyful Noise over the weekend. I had no idea what it was about. I saw it with a girlfriend (who’s Asian), she was the one who recommended it. I think most of the reviews have been half and half regarding this film. It’s a musical, a comedy with small bits of drama.

The storyline is rather old fashioned, family friendly, and when I watched it, I felt it would be a perfect musical for the stage (Off or On-Broadway). I liked the music so much, I’m buying the soundtrack. By the way, I’m also a Dolly Parton fan. It was nice to see her in this film. Kirk Franklin shows up to do a song.

The Film’s Focus

One thing about Queen Latifah, when she makes a film with a black woman / women in it – she doesn’t take the spotlight off of them to share it with others. That will be part and parcel of why this film wont get high grades: there’s no storyline about any white girl(s) in this. It’s about black women: their friends, frenemies, families and men (black, white and Asian).

Yup, all the interracial couples in this movie involve black women. 🙂

Think about that when others try to persuade you to see films where we are invisible, don’t exist, or only make up part of the background scenery.

The Audience

From my quick visual survey at the time, the demographics looked rather good: a mixed crowd of people over 25, although mostly white couples or white women with their kids.

That tells me that a variety of folks will come out to see a film with black women in the lead.

Praise

So, I stand up and applaud Queen Latifah for quietly putting out a movie, TV program, or whatever, year after year that focus on us. Somehow, she’s figured out how navigate the treacherous waters of Hollywood as an Executive Producer to get stuff done.

I hope more black women can do the same.

The Red Tails Discussion

Also, I wanted to point everyone to the awesome discussion over on What About Our Daughters regarding the lack of black women in the film Red Tails by George Lucas.

Ladies, at the end of the day, it’s your wallet, do as you please. 😀

 

Update: My bad … I should have mentioned Keke Palmer. Her singing is amazing. I say if they ever wanted to make a new and improved, yet younger version of, The Bodyguard, they’ve got their girl.

 

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Black Actress Update: Hollywood’s Shrinking Box Office

I know if I made money the way Hollywood did, I’d be ecstatic. Especially when you have the most creative accountants in the world who can turn billions earned into “losses”. All legally, of course. That’s what you get for having the US Congress in your back pocket. I expect when their earnings decline even more, they will be asking for public funds to keep the business afloat (See General Motors). That will occur right after they make it illegal for anyone to say or watch anything on the Internet (pending legislative as of now).

But I digress, imagine being able to push garbage at people and compel them to head to a filthy, loud and uncomfortable theater just to sit through crappy schlock for nearly three hours? That clearly takes genius to run this con year after year, week after week and day after day. If they think they are losing money now, wait until everyone can download a film in the blink of an eye and re-create a movie theater at home without the nuisance, annoyance and hassle of a public one.

Nothing To See Here, Move Along

The box office take for Hollywood has been weak: headlines blurb about the lower attendance rates. A money quote from the BBC article:

“It’s unbelievable how bad it is,” said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Are we supposed to weep for them? I thought this would be a bonanza year, since they have defenders, who say that films with too many black people – men and women, not just the guys – wont make money. This was the year of the whitest films around.

I’m usually a movie fiend, but this has been the year where I missed many of the “blockbuster films”, except for X Men: The Lamest Generation and Mission Impossible: Making Tom Cruise Hot Again. There may have been another, but I often forget a film the minute I leave the theater.

Come Back, Again, Ya Hear!?!

This was the year of sequels, remakes, prequels, comic books and animation. Proof of Hollywood’s emptiness.

The top 20 films of 2011, according to Box Office Mojo. I have a page that shows the same content of all the Top 100 films.

1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $381.00 WB
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon $352.00 P/DW
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 $272.00 Sum.
4 The Hangover Part II $254.00 WB
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $241.00 BV
6 Fast Five $209.00 Uni.
7 Cars 2 $191.00 BV
8 Thor $181.00 Par.
9 Rise of the Planet of the Apes $176.00 Fox
10 Captain America: The First Avenger $176.00 Par.
11 The Help $169.00 BV
12 Bridesmaids $169.00 Uni.
13 Kung Fu Panda 2 $165.00 P/DW
14 X-Men: First Class $146.00 Fox
15 Puss in Boots $143.00 P/DW
16 Rio $143.00 Fox
17 The Smurfs $142.00 Sony
18 Super 8 $127.00 Par.
19 Rango $123.00 Par.
20 Horrible Bosses $117.00 WB (NL)

 

The fresh entries: The Help, Bridesmaids, Super 8, Horrible Bosses, Rio and Rango. So, out of the top 20, roughly 6 of them were “original”, fresh-out-of-the-box material. Heh.

The Non-Mystery of the Twilight Lure

Honestly, doesn’t Breaking Dawn sound like a porn title, or is that just me? 😀

Breaking Dawn In

The funniest thing I’ve read were reports of women having “seizures” at this latest Twilight film, and no one knew what it was. It’s called an orgasm, people. Sheesh. It’s the 21st century and female biology is still a mystery. Um, women like Twilight and Vampire flicks, because of the eroticism. The yearning, withholding and anticipating. He’s a bad boy, and an eternally powerful man who bites and licks the neck, targeting one of the erogenous zones of the female body.

Yeah, “seizures.” Okay.

The Black Actress: Inclusion or Exclusion?

Forgive me for not listing all shows, or movies with a black actress. If you find some with a black actress of interest, please add it to the comments section. Let’s look at the top films of the year and see if that hypothesis is true, you know: less black women (or nice black male actors) equals more money per film.

When I glance at cast credits, I look at the first 5 to 10. They get the most speaking roles, so even if a black actress gets one line and is part of the scenery – to me – that doesn’t count.

Films that include black women in starring roles also (animation doesn’t count):

1. The Help – love it or hate it, we got a film about being maids, in 2011. Thank you, Hollywood. Thanks so much. All we black women can do is still be maids in the 21st century. A black woman is First Lady, but these people have us doing roles cleaning some white woman’s toilet with dignity! whilst pretending that’s got something to do with civil rights. Alrighty, then.

2. Bridesmaids – big hit – from the people that brought us Hangover. Not sure how much of a role she played, but Kali Hawk (love the name) is in it.

Update: Somehow I missed Maya Rudolph, and she’s one of the stars!

Thank you for the tip, Vonnie!

3. X-Men – Does not have a black actress with two black parents, but a half-half of two half-half was in it. So, I flipped a coin and decided to include Zoë Kravitz.

 Here’s the bottom 20 movies of 2011 for comparison:

80 In Time $36.00 Fox
81 Colombiana $36.00 TriS
82 Sucker Punch $36.00 WB
83 J. Edgar $36.00 WB
84 Larry Crowne $35.00 Uni.
85 The Descendants $35.00 FoxS
86 50/50 $35.00 Sum.
87 Drive (2011) $34.00 FD
88 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas $34.00 WB (NL)
89 Courageous $33.00 TriS
90 The Rite $33.00 WB (NL)
91 Arthur (2011) $33.00 WB
92 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) $32.00 Sony
93 The Adventures of Tintin $31.00 Par.
94 The Debt $31.00 Focus
95 Priest $29.00 SGem
96 The Mechanic $29.00 CBS
97 Abduction $28.00 LGF
98 Beastly $27.00 CBS
99 Winnie the Pooh $26.00 BV
100 Killer Elite $25.00 ORF

 

Anything Else We Need to Know?

An action film with a black actress is a miss, but the black actress as a maid might be up for an Oscar? Oh well.

1. Columbiana – Zoe Saldana. Perhaps she should stick to romances or something. Seriously, no one is going to believe that a 55 pound woman – soaking wet – can kick anybody’s ass.

2. Drive – Tiara Parker – don’t know if she has much of a role.

3. Larry Crowne – Tarina Pouncy – don’t know if she has much of a role.

4. Courageous – Eleanor Brown – don’t know if she has much of a role.

Notice that a lot of the big stars made spectacular flops this year? People are tired of them too.

Some of the bottom films are likely new releases, so those numbers will change for next year.

And that’s all folks….

Happy New Year. 😀

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**Updated** Black Actress Media Watch: Shows With Black Women

I’ve been meaning to do this list for a while. These are shows in which a black actress gets to say more than two or three words a scene. Oh, and yes, some are mixed, a few are foreign born, etc. etc.

The TV programs aren’t listed in any particular order.

Eureka

Salli Richardson-Whitfield

A town full of geniuses, where weird things happen. I started watching it two seasons ago, I stopped because the character Fargo got on my nerves. It got really interesting this past season, as it finally developed beyond near-miss awkward on the relationship between Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) and Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield).

She plays a nice, smart, easy going woman. Not only that, her character is central to the show. If I’d known about this program I would have watched it from day one. I always thought she’d be hidden away. Nope. They put her front and center. Props to the creators of Eureka.

Vampire Diaries

About two vampires in love with the same woman who looks exactly like her vampire ancestor. That’s all. Nothing more. Although there’s a smoking hot guy on the show who plays a werewolf, Mason Lockwood (Taylor Kinney). Pant. Drool. (Damn, they just recently killed him off.)

Woof. Woof.

The tiniest black woman on television is on this show. Her name is Katerina Graham. She plays a “witch” (insert eyeroll here) on the show. She’s so petite, the other little girls look like Amazons next to her. She sorta reminds me of Stacy Dash.

katerina graham

Detroit 187

This is a new program. It has a very strong Homicide, Hill Street Blues and other cop dramas, aura to it. Does it really take place in Detroit? Dunno. But wherever they’re filming, everything looks authentic. I’ve never watched the Sopranos, but the lead actor is Michael Imperioli, who I saw in a guest role as a Detective on Law & Order.

I like this show. The boss of the detectives is Lieutenant Maureen Mason, played by Aisha Hinds, who I last saw on the dreadful, waste of brain cells show Dollhouse (yes, I watched every episode to the bitter end). She didn’t have much to say on that show, but I admire her “look.” She does the baldie quite well.

aisha hinds

Law & Order: Los Angeles

I am a Law & Order fan girl. I am someone who can watch the first few minutes and know whether I’ve seen the show before or not. I’ve watched every single L&O and L&O: SVU episode. The only shows I’ve missed are the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episodes without crazy Vincent D’Onofrio as Det. Goren. He was as fun to watch as the psychos he badgered.

I was pleased to see Regina Hall as a District Attorney Assistant. They’ve already moved one actress off the show, and the DAAs don’t hang around for long. But it’s still nice to see her play a straight role. In case you don’t know her, if you’ve ever watched the Scary Movie parodies – that was her with the ditzy blonde (Anna Faris). They had nice synergy on screen. 😀

regina hall

Bones

I remember Tamara Taylor as the woman from Party of Five (never watched the show, but the ads for it were memorable). The main characters are a woman with a goofy voice Dr. Brennan (Emily Deschanel) who’s supposed to be a “genius” and Angel (David Boreanaz) as Special Agent Seeley Booth. I enjoy the program for its humor and I like mysteries.

Tamara Taylor plays Dr. Camille Saroyan, who is the boss of the scientific investigative group (sorta like a CSI / CSU). She also plays a nice, smart, well dressed, professional woman at work. I like her character a great deal, and during the first year she and Angel used to knock boots. Alas, that didn’t last long. She’s been man-starved ever since. I get irked when a show lets all the unattractive women have a man, and the beautiful black woman has nobody. Spare me.

Tamara Taylor

Chase

This is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, so every week expect something to blow up and many people to die a gruesome death. The lead woman is a Becky The Vampire Slayer type. What do I mean by that? Ever since that show, nearly every tiny, little, rail thin blond / brunette / Asian (see new Nikita)/ Latina can fight a muscular guy nearly twice her size and beat him. She can ever buck him off her of her, when he’s sitting on her and she’s flat on her back. It’s funny, because male characters will be beat using the same method of fighting, and their combatant is an even match in size.

My Dad says I have to remember to suspend disbelief when I watch these shows: I think I also need to be drunk or high.

Anyways, it’s a new show, and the cast includes Rose Rollins. The men are easy on the eyes, especially big blond buff Cole Hauser.

rose rollins

Castle

This show has been on for a while, third season already. It has the Captain from Firefly. The “Brown Coats” know who I’m talking about. He’s gained a lot of weight on this show. Dude is getting wide. The girl who plays his daughter is so pretty. I love red heads.

I like Castle. Nice cast. Very amusing. Tamala Jones plays the medical examiner. Nice to see her in a steady role.

Tamala Jones

Warehouse 13

CCH Pounder

This show features the venerable C.C.H. Pounder as Mrs. Irene Frederic. She’s not there every week, but I believe her character is integral. She has a special link to Warehouse 13. One of the main characters of the show is the mysterious Leena, played by Genelle Williams.

I like the show. It’s sci-fi.

genelle williams

Fringe

I’ll admit, she wasn’t given much to say, or do, in the first season. Yet, Astrid (played by Jasika Nicole) has been in every episode since the first. Love her hair. I think I love the Alter-Astrid more. Having her do those probability calculations is rather awesome. Nice to see a woman doing mathematics so quickly.

Jasika Nicole

Dexter

Apparently, this show is still on. I stopped watching it around season 2 or season 3. Mindless gore gets boring after a while. I’ll probably catch up via DVD later on. The boss of the police squad is the very very ambitious Lt. Maria Laguerta, played by Lauren Vélez. I will say I missed the angry black guy who was her best buddy. There’s one season where she gets rid of a competitor in the most devious way…. Unbelievably good.

lauren velez

Hawthorne, R.N.

Outside of a few YouTube clips, I haven’t seen the entire show yet. I will. I love to catch up to cable shows on DVD. This show, as nearly everyone knows is produced by and stars Mrs. Jada Pinkett Smith. You go on with your bad self, Mrs. Smith.

Mrs. Jada Pinkett Smith

Private Practice

Why do some shows start off boring, and then dive right into overwrought? I’ve missed a few seasons. This show is … I keep looking for someone to like. For some reason, the pilot aired with Merrin Dungey as Dr. Naomi Bennett. I think I know who should play Mrs. Obama in any future film. Actually, she should be the wife of Blair Underwood on The Event, but don’t get me started.

merrin dungey

Audra McDonald takes over, managing to look like the most miserable black woman in America, episode after episode. You try to like her, but one has to give into the dislike for her character. After all, that’s what the Shonda Rhimes wants. And dutifully, we shall obey.

audra mcdonald

Law & Order: SVU

Sometimes they even give her a story line: Tamara Tunie. She’s the medical examiner. I’ve noticed that for many years she wore her hair dead straight, then one day BANG! There were the curls. Lovely.

tamara tunie

Grey’s Anatomy

I hate this show, and all the characters on it. It’s been crap since they got rid of Isaiah Washington. Why are there ninetyelevenhundredthousand unattractive white women (I’ll make a half exception for two) on the show, and one barking hyena (you know, the one they used to call “The Nazi”) that’s supposed to be the only woman who can’t get or keep a man?

Buncha idiots. They should kill fire everyone and start fresh. I meant the writers, not the cast. Nevermind.

Chandra Wilson

Other Shows

Feel free to add any I may have missed from BBC, BBC America, and all the rest are welcome inclusions. I don’t watch cable shows until I get the DVDs or start with Netflix again.

** Updates **

Thanks for the feedback, ladies! I have a few more shows to add.

The Defenders

It is new this season on CBS, and it might not last long. It has the bubbly, smart and lively Jurnee Smollet as new associate Lisa Tyler. The show has Jim Belushi and  Jerry O’Connell. I like this program. They give a good amount of time to Ms. Smollet, and her character is shown a healthy amount of respect. Nice.

Jurnee Smollett

The Closer

I don’t know if I can fairly say that the black woman, Gina Ravera (as Detective Irene Daniels) on this show ever got  to say more than two or three words. From what I’ve researched, she’s no longer on the show. She was characterized as “difficult” and was dating the only black male officer on the show. ¿Por qué? Why?!

I thought she made a better couple with the latino officer, Detective Julio Sanchez played by Raymond Cruz. The romance with the black officer created lots of drama, interfering with their work. She became the black drama queen. Everyone else could have drama, but hers was unforgivable.

Anyways, I’m giving her a head nod.

Gina Ravera

Parenthood

Haven’t seen it yet. This show is on its 2nd season already! Wow. Out of the massive white cast there is: Joy Bryant as Jasmine Trussell, and Tina Lifford as her Mother, Renee Trussell.

According to Truth P.: “She plays Jasmine. A single mother who is co parenting and I believe is rekindling a romance with the white father of her child. (rolls eyes at the fact the couple isn’t married and at the fact the son is 5 and has just met his father.)”

joy bryant
Tina Lifford

Tina Lifford and Alfre Woodard could play sisters.

alfre woodard

Justified

I searched to see if it’s returning. We’ll see if it happens. Jazine reminded me of this program: “…for a hot sizzling minute there were sparks between Timothy Olyphant and Erica Tazel in the F/X series Justified. They never got together romantically, but the sexual tension and chemistry between them was palatable in one particular episode.” Yes, girl. Lots and lots of undercurrents in that scene. Whoo.

And we can see why, she’s pretty and cute.

erica tazel

Rookie Blue

Now, I’m someone who likes cop dramas. I didn’t check this out, because I thought it was going be a version of Becky The Vampire Slayer in Blue, a variation on a theme of which I find highly annoying. Another heads-up by Truth P.: “Euneka Okuma of the show “Rookie Blue”. She is a main character on the show AND there is also another black woman on the show named Melanie Nicholls King.”

Awesome.

Enuka Okuma
Melanie Nicholls King

True Blood

Still waiting to catch up by DVD. And thanks to Truth P. for reminding me of this program: “…Can’t forget about Rutina Wesley. She stars on the hit show True Blood.”

Gotta give a special shout-out to the producers of this show. I’ve read the books. There is not one black woman in any of the books who is a central character. So thank you very, very much for that addition. As we all know, when a black actress gets work, she puts her heart and soul into the role, ’cause she knows it may be a couple of years, before (and if) she gets work again.

Rutina Wesley

Undercovers

My bad for not even mentioning this one the first time. Special shout-out to Boris Kodjoe,  J.J. Abrams, and Josh Reims for even entertaining this concept.

I mean, let’s get real here. His character has a black wife. Y’all know for yourselves, if this show starred some of the other negroes out there, he wouldn’t push for a black actress. He’d get to play, I dunno, a Cuban or something, even if he’s the darkest negro on television, and would be truly eager to have a white actress as his wife. He’d pretend he has no power to push for a black actress to get a few guest starring roles, ’cause he doesn’t have that kind of power.

Or he’d be happy to be a star in a program, in which show after show includes other black male actors guest starring, his co-stars having past loves / entanglements / romances, but he’ll be satisfied as the only character without any relationships. At all.

gugu mbatha-raw

Law and Order: UK

Freema Agyeman

As mentioned by Tyco: “Law and Order UK is now airing on BBC America. It stars Freema Agyeman.”

Thanks to everyone for mentioning these programs!

And a special, special thanks to the producers, creators, and writers of these programs for giving us such wonderful, professional, smart, hardworking, attractive, and interesting character roles for black actresses.

😀

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Black Actress Media Watch: Flashpoint’s Olunike Adeliyi

Flashpoint has been on CBS for four years! Where have I been? I don’t own a TV, so I don’t keep up with all the new or existing programs. Since I have to shift through Fancast, Hulu and Netflix, it’s hard to know which shows are still running and which have been canceled.

I’ve actually found a real black actress (of West African ancestry) on a prime time show! Wow. That is amazing.

It is actress Olunike Adeliyi as Officer Leah Kerns. Her character comes across as rather normal. I love the fact she wears a short natural. She isn’t strident, loud, angry, obese, fat, cheeky, overly sexy, or in any way stereotypical. She’s down-to-earth and speaks well. I appreciate seeing a black character like her on a cop drama.

The show is produced by an army of people, but I’d like to thank them for adding a respectable, dignified, and mature woman of color to their program.

The very pretty Olunike Adeliyi

Can I tell you how cool it is to see a black female cop? I wanted to be a cop at one time until I realized I might be trigger happy. I think I would prefer to be a detective. I like solving puzzles.

According to IMDb she’s in only 6 episodes. Right now, these are the ones I happen to be watching. It is wonderful to see someone with her looks (yes, I went there) on TV. I see so many beige and question-mark race women on TV, I wonder what’s going on. They have the right to get work, but I don’t want anyone pretending that that is what black women look like. Okay?

Flashpoint had me confused at first. I knew it was filmed in Canada. I watched the skylight for the show, but I’ve yet to hear them mention that it’s Canada. They don’t specify the city. Maybe I’ve missed it. It still has a very NY feel to it. All the accents sound regional like Chicago and NY to me. Very broad and very deep.

The show moves very fast, and even though it seems to involve characters issues, they aren’t deep or integral to the storyline. It’s the protagonists (new distraught gun wielding person every week) who sets things in motion, and it is the job of the police to diffuse the situation and/or neutralize this person by any means necessary. They work hard try to understand the protagonist’s motivations, issues, trigger points, family ties, and only use deadly force as a last resort.

I like the show, and I will try to watch it for as long as Ms Adeliyi is on.

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