HOLLYWOOD—Hello America! It has come to my attention that several new successful film actors that are so full of themselves, strongly object to co-workers, especially extras, looking at them when entering a set! They have even gone as far as having them fired! Two of these current cinematic stars include Eddie Murphy and Terrence Howard—two actors who should be eager to embrace anyone who might be so moved to glance at them.
I’m not saying that Murphy and Howard are not decent performers, but they definitely are not “great” actors. It is amazing that actors of color, who for decades were denied credible roles or even an entrance to a lot or set, could possibly initiate this kind of attitude with other actors or those involved with any production taking place in the industry. One only has to remember such legendary stars of color as Ethel Waters, Pearl Bailey, Dorothy Dandridge or Rex Ingram, who were not only brilliant performers, but genuinely nice, caring people who, with tremendous dignity, respected those who might render them applause. I realize, suddenly, how much we have lost and fallen.
When I think of all those actors who are being overlooked because they don’t match the stereotypical view that many producers and directors still have for those of color, it is obvious that our so-called move forward hasn’t been very effective. Yes, the door is still open for the actor who can represent the pimp, neighborhood gangster or the overweight black man or woman, who can project the expected comic attitude that is accepted, or worse yet, expected from an actor of color. When a young actor who has studied the craft of acting comes to me and indicates he lost a role because, during his interview, the casting person noted he wasn’t rough enough or he didn’t look black enough, it makes me furious! The idea that this actor could easily make an audience believe what character he is simply because he is fully prepared in exercising his craft just doesn’t connect with the reality of these casting people. It’s quite disturbing. Bette Davis, who played some really way-out characters, i.e., prostitutes and other bad-girl types, told me that she refused to be type cast. She did her research and went for it. All the really fine or well-prepared actors could easily agree with Davis.
It is very important to note, as well, that not only white casting people handle business in this stupid way, but black casting directors are guilty, as well. Eager to be respected and accepted themselves, they quickly join the inner circle of industry idiots. All one has to do is watch some of the episodes featuring blacks on TV in any locale in the nation, and the full story is glaringly there. How sad it is!