Is Beyonce making it harder for Black actresses?Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 12:00 am.
By now you’ve heard Nia Long’s comments on singers and rappers turned actors, especially Beyonce Knowles, who starred in roles like Obsessed, Dreamgirls and Cadillac Records. In case you missed it, Long told U.K. magazine Pride:
“If you’re a singer, not an actress, you should sing. If you’re a rapper, you should rap.”
On Beyonce’s last movie Obsessed.
“I didn’t see ‘Obsessed,’ so I can’t comment, but it’s just not about how talented you are anymore. It’s about how much box-office revenue will this person generate. When you see certain people – we won’t name names – they just don’t have the skill, and no one on their team has said, ‘You need acting classes.”
Nia Long was one of the most popular Black actresses from the ’90s, starring in films like Boyz N The Hood, Love Jones and The Best Man. While Long makes a good point – are Beyonce and musicians really to blame for the lack of African-American roles in Hollywood? Isn’t the bigger issue what movies get the green light, the void of African-Americans owning film studios and little to no Black screenwriters? It’s a heavy burden to put this issue on the back of Beyonce, which goes back to the days of Hattie McDaniel and Dorothy Dandridge.
On the other hand, Bey is the current media darling. Imagine if a seasoned actress played Etta James in Cadillac Records, Deena in Dreamgirls, or the angry wife in Obsessed. If someone like Beyonce were around in the ’90s would she have snatched up the role of Nina in Love Jones? Bird in Soul Food? Yes, once upon a time, pop stars like Janet Jackson (even despite her few movie roles), Jody Watley and Paula Abdul stayed in their lane when it came to Hollywood. Actresses like Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, Nia Long and Jada Pinkett Smith were offered roles because they were the actors. Maybe there is a lack of respect for acting — you can get by being an awful actress and still do well at the box office. However, if you are an awful singer who was once an actor — the door is not as open.
Do you agree with Nia Long’s comments or is she pointing fingers in the wrong direction?