It’s obvious that there’s some difficulty in being Black in Hollywood. We’ve seen cynics and critics alike go against Zoe Saldana as the legendary Nina Simone. And when there’s a second Black Bond girl who makes more headlines than Bond himself, it makes me question Black Hollywood. Being Black in Hollywood is almost like a spectacle that is sometimes marveled, i.e. Sidney Poitier, but most times Black Hollywood is protested against or just plain detested (see: Tyler Perry).
Denzel Washington is one one of those Black actors who’s work goes beyond the amount of melanin in his skin. However, the color of Denzel’s offspring’s skin will inevitably hold her back in Hollywood. According to Renee Martin of Clutch, privileged children of stars like Denzel have to get beyond their famed last name in order to “make it,” but she doesn’t believe these silver-spoon-sucking kids for a minute.
There are parts of her opinion that I agree with. Denzel appeared with a few A-listers as a part of “The Actors” with The Hollywood Reporter and explained that two of his daughters were actresses. One of them works with Quentin Tarantino and the other just finished a movie with Lee Daniels while his son just co-produced a movie for Daniels. I can’t honestly say that neither one of them received the roles because of what their last name is, but I feel as if the “Washington” named definitely played a part in their casting and his son’s co-producer role.
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I think it was Denzel’s appearance on “The Actors” that opened up Martin’s mind on the offspring of famous parents having to struggle for what they want, especially in Hollywood. I can say it opened my own. Just because you come from talented and famous genes doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be the same success story. Unless of course you’re not as dark-skinned as Denzel’s daughter.
It was Denzel’s opinion on his daughter’s attempt at a Hollywood career that had me thinking. He had to be blunt with her about her dark skin tone. Here’s what Denzel told his daughter, Olivia:
“You’re black, you’re a woman, and you’re dark-skinned at that. So you have to be a triple/quadruple threat. I said: ‘You gotta learn how to act. You gotta learn how to dance, sing, move onstage.’ That’s the only place, in my humble opinion, you really learn how to act. I said: ‘Look at Viola Davis. That’s who you want to be. Forget about the little pretty girls; if you’re relying on that, when you hit 40, you’re out the door. You better have some chops.'”
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It’s sad and true. Black Hollywood requires much more of darker-skinned women. Look at the roles Viola Davis plays, versus those of Halle Berry or even Paula Patton. Better yet, look beyond Zoe Saldana’s controversial casting and realize that none of the powers that be for the Nina Simone biopic thought it would be a good choice to give an actress with the same skin tone as Nina Simone the coveted role.
I thought it was supposed to be the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice? I guess that cliche only works when we’re talking about actual juice. Denzel’s daughter isn’t the only dark-skinned black woman that has to deal with this reality.
I’ve always complained about the racially ambiguous looking women in various print and television advertisements who pass the age-old paper bag test. Their hair, curly, kinky, naturally wild, but still that “good” stuff. It’s very rare to see someone as dark as Viola Davis, pushing various products. There’s only a handful of newcomer actresses whose skin tone could make dark chocolate jealous and while it’s uplifting, it’s sad that we can count them with our fingers.
Among other actors like Matt Damon, Jamie Foxx, John Hawkes and more, Denzel continued to open up about fame, fear, Nelson Mandela and more.
Check out what else Denzel had to say on “The Actors”:
On what shocks him most about fame:
“Nothing. It wasn’t like it was an overnight thing. I’m just a working actor. I’m still not famous as far as I’m concerned. I just like being an actor and working. The fame part…other than getting a table at a restaurant–other than that, I’m just a regular guy.”
On roles he’s turned down:
“What’s mine is mine. What’s for me, is for me. What’s for someone else is for someone else. There’s a couple of roles I’ve turned down that have been have turned out to be big, hit movies. You know, C’est la vie!”
On what he’s afraid of:
Positively and negatively, you attract not just what you fear, you attract what you feel, what you are, what you attract.
On his relationship with Nelson Mandela:
“He would call me on New Years Eve, New Years Day and that would be one of the first calls I got ‘Denzel. How are you? I’m going to come to your house.’ He actually came to America and came to my house and wanted my wife to fry him some chicken. There were helicopters around. [laughs] It was about 50 people from Sylvester Stallone to Oprah–everyone just listening to him. They were just on every word.”
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