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Sound-Off: Black Actresses Snubbed Once Again

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I've never been a fan of awards shows. They're long, usually rather dull -- unless someone shows up under the influence -- and rarely feature anyone who looks like me. With the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations announced this morning, the 2011 awards season has officially kicked off. As usual, the nominees are a sea of White faces. It ain't easy being brown in Hollywood. The naysayers abound. Can you open up a movie? Will your name guarantee we triple or quadruple our investment? Is your brand strong enough to be diversified into other streams of revenue, such as product endorsements? Black actresses are rarely given a fair shake in Hollywood -- especially when it comes to awards. Since acting is indeed an art, the award season has historically been reserved as a way to dote on industry favorites, you know, the talented who may leave the box office in a bust but their performance was a boom. The billion-dollar question is simple: Where do African-Americans fit in? The truth is, we don't, or at least haven't. Many people believe talent is innate, but superstars are chosen. I can't help but concur as I look at the nominees for this year's Critic's Choice Awards, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild (such as, Nicole Kidman for "Rabbit Hole," Anne Hathaway for "Love and Other Drugs," Angelina Jolie for "The Tourist," Emma Stone for "Easy A" and Natalie Portman for "Black Swan") which were all announced this week. The only brown face in the batch is our old, faithful (and stunningly beautiful I must add) Halle Berry, for "Frankie and Alice." The thing is, how can Black actresses be considered for awards, when they're not even considered for roles? As I combed through the listing of 2010 releases I labored to find a Black actress in a supporting role, much less a lead in a major film. Hollywood doesn't want to green-light our stories and refuses to integrate us into theirs, where does that leave us? Disappointed. Sad. Outraged. Hurt. I'll be the first to admit the latter term resonates with me most. I am hurt when I see our actresses continuously snubbed and lacking recognition for standout performances -- even when they follow the formula. For example, no movie this season has tackled the array of issues faced by females, not just Black women, than "For Colored Girls." While the movie received mixed reviews, the standout performances by renowned actresses, such as Phylicia Rashad or Loretta Devine, were more than noteworthy. Still they are ignored. In an industry where prestige can be monetized, I find it hard to stomach this awards season. See, much like elementary school students, actors are tracked. A win or nod at the Golden Globes or Critic's Choice Awards usually makes you a strong contender for the big win: an Oscar. Unfortunately -- just like in elementary school -- being on the "A" track doesn't always directly correlate with talent or ability; it boils down to resources. If we want to see more "As" in Hollywood we have to do something about it. They won't. I guess art really does imitate life.
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