By: Open Book
Did African American actors go “missing in action” in Hollywood last year? Obviously the Academy Awards thought so and sprinkled a few into their broadcast for good measure. African American past Oscar nominees and winners were presenters this year but none were nominated? Mainstream news media reported a few weeks ago, why they thought people of color weren’t nominated for an Oscar this year. The big story by the New York Times entitled Hollywood’s Whiteout was an attempt to goat African American’s into screaming foul play by Hollywood. Yet, African American audiences did not fall for it. Why? Before anyone get’s excited!!! This is not another article about African American’s being discriminated against in Hollywood. No! Instead this is about recognizing African American’s influence, business savvy, creativity and achievements in Hollywood. Also, Part-2 of this series will focus on how well films featuring African American stories and actors perform domestically and internationally.
The African American community is a very lucrative demographic for the entertainment industry according to Allied Media Corporation (a market research company) states:
“The African American population is now more than 37 million. African Americans have spent $719 billion in income on apparel, entertainment, food, beverages, toys, computers, cosmetics, automobiles, travel and dozens of other categories.”
Many feel this is old news to Hollywood because they have long since gone after black actors, directors, writers and producers hoping to appeal to black consumers. The barriers that once existed in Hollywood for African American artist are believed to have been broken according to actor Anthony Mackie who was in the Academy Award winning film The Hurt Locker. In a recent interview for his latest film The Adjustment Bureau he was asked (by reporter Todd Johnson of theGrio.com). “Why are there no African Americans nominated this year for an Oscar?” Mackie states;
“I think we need to make more films. I think we need to make our own films. I think the barriers have been broken down. I think we have been lazy on our game. Right now there are enough brothers with distribution deals and production deals.” To see the entire interview go to: http://www.shadowandact.com/?p=40234
So as much as mainstream news media wants to fall back on past hot button issues to insight conflict between Hollywood and African American’s, many black film developers are being more constructive. The truth is African Americans are not getting resistance in Hollywood because (some say) they have the means to produce and distribute the films they want to see. Actor and producer Will Smith has numerous films in various stages of development over the next three to four years through his Overbrook Entertainment label housed at Sony Pictures. Also, Tyler Perry has numerous films in development as well. Yes! The 2010 Oscar nominations were abundant with African American actors, writers, directors and producers and the absence of people of color this year was really felt and unfortunate.
However, the reason for their absence was not due racism which some have tried to imply. Instead it may have been due to slow output by African American producers in Hollywood. If we assume that African Americans did not watch the 2011 Academy Awards out of lack of interest, than the low television ratings are an indication African American consumers do have power in Hollywood. Maybe last year the ratings for the Oscars were considerably higher because of numerous black nominees? So the conspiracy theory that the Academy Awards did not nominate blacks to prove white dominance in Hollywood does not add up. In reality, perhaps the bigger problem facing African American consumers and producers is lack of communication? Is there a conflict over what African American consumers want to see versus what artists want to produce? Are African American producers not meeting the demand of black consumers? Are artists taking their time in efforts to produce new and diverse quality material? Why do you think there were less quality films produced by African Americans in Hollywood last year?
Please join us for a discussion: Wednesday, 3/2/2011@7pE/12UTC