Sistahs Are Doin' It

There's a slew of entertainment awards, but I only pay attention to the top three: The Oscars for movies, the Emmys for television, and the Golden Globes for the best of both.

Emmy awards nominations were announced last week. Unfortunately, I recognized no male names on the list for performances in front of the camera. I did, however, see three female names:

Chandra Wilson for supporting actress in Grey's Anatomy
Vanessa Williams for supporting actress in Ugly Betty (love that name)

Queen Latifah for lead actress in Life Support, the only leading performance by an African-American that received a nomination.

It's got to be rough being an actress, and, as usual when you're black it's probably ten times as difficult. I don't believe there is exactly a multitude of roles available for black women, so this creates a situation where the same women are undoubtedly scrambling for the same parts. The ironic thing about these three nominations is that none of these women are your typical young, beautiful, shapely female people tend to associate with acting.

When Chandra Wilson won an award (maybe it was an Emmy, maybe a Golden Globe; I can't remember) she alluded to her diminutive stature (around 5' or shorter) and the fact that she is not model thin. Yet she managed to land a role on a hit show. Her heartfelt speech was inspiring.

Queen Latifah is what's often referred to as "a big girl." Because Hollywood usually feels that everyone is thin, most of Latifah's parts provide able support for other leads (also known as character parts). I found it refreshing to see her get to shine in a lead role.

Vanessa Williams is in her 40s. Hell, even Meryl Streep started being scarce when she hit this age, so what's a black actress to do? When's the last time Angela Bassett made a movie? It's been, what, two years since that flick about the spelling bee? (One notable exception to the 40 jinx: Alfre Woodard. In her 50s, she is one of the hardest-working women in show business, popping up everywhere).

You go, sistahs! And take heart if your name isn't called at the ceremony. It may sound trite, but in a TV world where only five performances in a year can be singled out as the best, sometimes it really is great just to be nominated.


Gwyneth Bolton said...

The sad thing is for every working actress there are so many more unemployed.

But this does seem to be the year for the sisters to shine. So that's wonderful.

I think the reason why we see so much of and hopefully will see much more of Alfre Woodard is because she is so dang talented. That sister can act her behind off. Love her!


bettye griffin said...

She's one of my favorites, too, Gwyneth, but my first mother-in-law was second to no one in her adoration of Alfre. I would bring her to see every movie she was in. She passed away in 1995, but she would be thrilled to see her success in such a variety of different roles (dramatic, comedic, lower-class, working class, upper middle class) and really show her versatility.

You're right when you say that for every one who makes it there are 50 who struggle. I still remember how actress Jackee Harry blew me away in The Women of Brewster Place. I had only seen her do comedy, but she proved she's so much more than that. Sadly, I don't recall that she ever again got such a meaty role. But she'll always have that part on her resume to show what she's capable of. That's not a bad thing.


Patricia W. said...

I've been looking for Ms. Bassett too, although I know she's been focused on her twin babies.

Love Alfre Woodard. Who doesn't?

I'm just thankful that writing is something one can do successfully at any age.

bettye griffin said...

You're right, Pat. I intend to be 85 years old and still writing. (I don't know about my eyesight, but good thing I memorized the keyboard . . . .)


Donna D said...

Chandra won a Screen Actors Guild award (SAG) and that's where she made her comments.

Let's not forget about the amazing S. Epatha Merkeson of "Law and Order". She won the trifecta of awards last year as best actress in a movie, "Lakawanna Blues." (The TV trifecta is Emmy, Golden Globes & SAG.)

bettye griffin said...

That's it, Donna! I forgot about those SAGs. I may have forgotten the award, but I do remember much of what Chandra said when accepting. She was a hoot.

And how could I forget S. Epatha Merkerson? At the time she accepted her many awards last year, she said she was 53 years old and this was her very first leading role. Says a lot about the acting profession. There's a lot more talent out there than available roles, especially for "women of a certain age."