Tag Archives: Sophie Okonedo

Where is the Black Julia Roberts? Part 1: Top Actresses 2000-2010

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual

The “black actress” stepped into the spotlight last year, as Nia Long called out Beyoncé Knowles and other singers for taking roles; Tyler Perry released yet another film starring newcomer Taraji P. Henson; and Precious gave its stars, especially Mo’Nique, a chance to shine.

The November 5 release of Perry’s For Colored Girls puts the issue of black women in cinema back into the national conversation — even if it fails to redeem Tyler Perry. So I decided to posit an answer to the question: where are all the black leading ladies? Below: 1) why this question?, 2) a list, 3) the state of the black leading lady, and 4) how I came up with the current crop.

I. Where is the Black Julia Roberts? One Route to an Answer

Easier asked than answered! The question is really more provocation than anything. At a certain point, comparison between races is irrelevant: is Will Smith the “white” anyone? He’s Will Smith! The question, however, does open up an interesting discussion. Julia Roberts, like Meryl Streep, can do a lot: from Duplicity and Eat Pray Love to, now, August: Osage County. Roberts can choose her roles and she almost always plays the lead. What black actress could do the same, now or in the near future? The real issue leads us to ask: of the potential black leading ladies today, who is on top, who isn’t panning out, and why?

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Dear Joss Whedon: We Found You A Wasp

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
dichenwasp

As of press time, the majority of the geek world was bracing for a big fat win, in the form of confirmation that Buffy mastermind Joss Whedon would be directing Marvel’s Avengers film adaptation – the culmination of the company’s attempt to create a shared film universe. Both Deadline and Variety have said, basically, that it’s all over but the champagne at this point.

Samuel L. Jackson’s presence as Nick Fury is all but a lock in this film, since he’s been the guy pulling these disparate heroes – Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and perhaps The Hulk & The Black Widow – together. But given Whedon’s predilection for casting familiar faces, there’s potentially a great opportunity here to cast Dollhouse vet Dichen Lachman as Janet Van Dyne, aka The Wasp, long established in canon as one of the team’s founding members, and had one of the longest relationships in both Marvel Universes with Henry Pym.

I say “both” because in the (alternate) Marvel Ultimate U., Janet is of (vague) Asian descent, and a holder of two doctorates. And the Jackson version of Fury’s character also originated in the Ultimate ‘verse. Though Whedon’s issues with representing Asian culture are well-documented, Lachman’s ability to steal the show on Dollhouse and the relatively neutral nature of the Avengers setting – it’s a military-industrial complex, sure, but at least the decor isn’t refried Geisha – would seem to insulate the character against at least some questionable characterization. Here’s to hoping. And to starting an anti-cancellation petition, just in case.

image courtesy of Rich Lovatt

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lizten1

One more fandom note: I won’t put up any Doctor Who spoilers, since the show will barely start airing in the U.S. this coming weekend, but I will recommend you check out next week’s episode, “The Beast Below,” featuring Sophie Okonedo as Liz Ten. I mean, come on, she rocks a cloak and twin hand-cannons. And she instantly joins the ranks of Characters Who Need Their Own Series Right Now.

image courtesy of Bleeding Cool

Race and Film: The Release of Skin

by Guest Contributor Melissa Silverstein, originally published at Women and Hollywood

Interesting story out of England about how director Anthony Fabian is resorting to guerrilla type outreach tactics to raise awareness and get an audience to see his new film Skin starring Oscar nominated actress Sophie Okonedo. The film premiered at Toronto last year and won awards at last winter’s Pan African film festival in LA. Here is my piece from last winter with a link to the trailer.

But it can’t get distribution here in the US and is in very limited distribution in London because as Fabian says, it is a story about black people. I would also venture to guess that because it is about a woman it makes it even harder.

Here’s what he was told:

“I was told by a respectable distributor in Britain that it would not distribute a film with a black cast,” he said. “That appears to be the attitude in the industry. These films are perceived not to make money. So [because we didn't have a major distributor] we did not have any trailers in cinemas, or posters on the underground, or posters on the sides of buses,” he said.

Here’s a description:

It tells the story of Sandra Laing, played by Okonedo, who was born to white parents but was classified as “coloured” during the Apartheid era. The biopic depicts the struggle of her parents – who were white with black ancestry – to have her re-classified in order to provide her with a formal education in a “whites-only” school.

Director Anthony Fabian refuses to allow his film to go away and he has literally taken to the streets, as have other members of the film’s team and a few people from the public, to let people know that the film is playing.

Those of you in London should get out there and support this film. If I was working on the film I would have them reach out to women’s film organizations like The Bird’s Eye Film Festival and Women in Film and TV in London and have them organize their members. I have a sneaking suspicion that if it fails to get any type of audience in London we will never see it here.

An apartheid story no one would screen
(The Independent)

Update: In EW fall preview they have Skin opening in the US on October 30.