Are black actresses forced to 'ugly' themselves up?

african kings

Black Girl with Long Hair

Tambay’s post about Viola Davis putting on 25 pounds and then padding herself up for her role in The Help immediately brought to mind a piece I wrote a year ago on S & A in August 2010 (I’m always ahead of the curve) raising the question about black women being forced to deglamorize themselves and to look bad so that white actresses can look better.

The subject came up when I had a conversation with a regular S & A reader involved in the theater as a director about how often black actors and actresses I’ve met in person, are much better looking than they appear on screen.

I told the reader one person who immediately came to mind was Taraji P. Henson. Meeting her, I was stuck by how just adorably cute she is in person. However that vision of her has yet to appear on the screen, where either she’s made to look awful (think Hustle and Flow or her matronly appearance in Benjamin Button), or even in films where she’s “normal,” such as The Karate Kid, Not Easily Broken, or Date Night, where she’s made to look haggard and not at all well photographed.

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