Diversity is a hot topic right now. Beyoncé, one of the most influential public figures in the world, just released “Formation”, a music video declaration about black beauty, wealth, and racial politics. #Oscarssowhite was a social media movement so loud that it forced the Academy to change its membership rules in the hopes of diversifying its voting population. And in a meaningful and bold move, Entertainment Weekly just released a 30-minute video, Beyond Beautiful, featuring Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon, Elizabeth Banks, and Eva Longoria discussing Hollywood and gender diversity. Everyone is talking about it, and it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
I started to think about other roundtable discussions that could help further facilitate the conversation about diversity. It isn’t lost on me that we need diversity everywhere-in medicine, in politics, in literature-not just in entertainment. But the entertainment industry commands a lot of power, revenue, and attention. And because of this, it’s a very impactful place to start these talks.
#Blacklivesmatter has pushed police brutality against black people to the forefront and has gained national attention. I’d love to see a roundtable of four black men, all successful and prominent in the entertainment industry, dive into the issues of race and Hollywood. Let’s call it Beyond Melanin. And these are the four guys I’d love to see at that discussion and why.
Michael B. Jordan
If any young black actor has transcended popular culture and become a fixture in mainstream media, it’s Michael B. Jordan. From his breakthrough show-stopping performance in Fruitvale Station to his recent triumphant turn in Creed, he is an actor who is seemingly defying the limitations placed on many black actors in Hollywood today. As someone who’s still relatively new in the industry, it’d be great to hear his perspective.
You were probably expecting me to say his name, right? But why not? How could I leave him out? Denzel Washington is the epitome of excellence in acting. The actor, who just received the Cecil B. Demille award at the Golden Globes, is one of the greatest living actors and one of the few black actors with the extensive body of work and ubiquity that he has. It would be absolutely outstanding to hear him speak about Hollywood when he was first starting out and all of the experiences that he’s had involving race throughout his career.
Idris is having a moment right now. Whether it’s the cult following of Luther or his award-worthy performance in Beasts of No Nation, he has fostered a career that has taken him so much further beyond best kept secret status in the black community. He is a riveting on-screen force, and as a British actor making a splash in the states, it would be great to hear how his experience either differs from or parallels black actors in the US.
Jamie Foxx is an Oscar award-winner who seemingly and effectively toes the line between remaining a fixture in mainstream culture and staying in touch with the original legion of black fans that supported him on In Living Color and the Jamie Foxx Show. It would be so great to hear his perspective on how he chooses his projects and how skin tone has affected his career path.
There are endless combinations of black actors that would surely lead to fruitful, passionate dialogue around race in Hollywood. But this mix combines success level, experience, and exposure in a dynamic way that could really open America’s eyes to the diversity issue that exists in our country. So how about it EW? Can we see Beyond Melanin next?