“…when you think about a black woman who can open a film, I mean they will green-light the film because of her presence in the film — you know there’s only one person, and that’s Madea.”
Atlanta, Georgia’s, online publication “Rolling Out” wrote an insightful article about the dearth of roles for Black women in film. Of course the article was highlighting the Black Women in Film (formerly, Black Women Film Project) luncheon featuring some of Hollywood’s leading Black actresses in film and television. The article outlined a number of concerns with the roles of Black women –something the IBWFF has also been highlighting for years.
The rub was to promote how much work there is in Atlanta, as well as how much Tyler Perry’s films and studio have impacted roles for African Americans. Personally, my mother’s family has been in Atlanta for over four generations, so I always took for Black achievement and success for granted –i.e., it was something you did, not something you undermined, like in many urban centers.
For many African Americans, Atlanta is a burgeoning, Black metropolis for actors and performers. Tyler Perry’s studio is another example of ingenuity, need fulfillment and entrepreneurship, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Sadly, the strength, purpose and vision of the luncheon was cut short by the closing statement by Roger Bobb, executive vice president of Tyler Perry Studios. After actress Terri Vaughn’s impassioned plea about roles for Black women in Hollywood, and after outlining the impact of such a worthy luncheon, one small statement seemed to dismiss and undermine everything that was just presented.
“…(W)hen you think about a black woman who can open a film, I mean they will green-light the film because of her presence in the film — you know there’s only one person, and that’s Madea.”
Wow. Did he just state that a Black man dressed as a Black woman is the only “Black woman” who can open a film?
Oh, but he did add, “Now you do have some exceptions — Halle Berry and Queen Latifah. But after that, the list goes way down.” Goes down? Goes down to what? Zoe Saldana? Angela Bassett? Gabrielle Union? Alicia Keys? Beyonce? Mo’Nique?
I respect the work (and jobs) that Tyler Perry Studios provides; however, I wish that Mr. Bobb had edited his words more carefully, especially considering that he just attended a luncheon where Black women in film were discussed for over an hour and a half.
Maybe he was taken out of context, who knows? But please, Black women in film are “dissed” enough… we don’t need to be dissed at our own events.