Hallee Berry, Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Lynn Whitfield, Mary J. Blige and Kimberly Elise are being recognized for their contributions to Hollywood in the April 19 Culture Issue of T Magazine. Penned by novelist and essayist Brian Keith Jackson, the stunning and overdue spread “We Are Family,” is accompanied by a video produced by Scott J. Ross. The high-fashion visuals showcase the legendary actresses as they reminisce about their first roles in Hollywood.
Jackson’s piece focuses on the unfair treatment of Black thespians in Hollywood. Black actresses continue to be marginalized by mainstream media and award shows. To this day, Halle Berry is the only Black women to win an Academy Award for best actress. “And yet there is an increasing sense that is the Academy that is behind in the times,” Jackson writes in his piece.
“I feel a kinship with other Black women because we understand it the same. We have a knowing bout the struggle and about how hard its been for us,” Halle Berry says in the clip. “I know whatever they did, I know they worked really hard to get that opportunity,” Elise added.
Seasoned actresses like Kimberly Elise and Viola Davis are making strides in the industry despite initially beginning their careers in supporting roles. However we are still on a journey to properly acknowledge the contributions from these women and many other thespians who’ve been overlooked by the Hollywood machine.
Black women actresses constantly have to work against being typecast and down right overshadowed by an industry made for the dainty, fair, white men and women.
While we may have a long way to go with diversity and equity across entertainment, these veteran actress have paved the way for younger generations like Yara Shahidi and Issa Rae, who continue to open doors for future actresses.
If we could add an addendum to the list, we would include Alfre Woodard, Queen Latifah, and the incomparable Regina King for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk.
All seven of these women highlighted in this piece gave a voice to the voiceless and hope to those lacking.