Regina King Wins Courageous Actress Award
I have to apologize to Regina King. I haven’t been a fan. The last time I saw Ms. King’s work was when I watched her play the role of Margie Hendricks in the biopic Ray featuring Jamie Foxx as the renowned blind musical genius Ray Charles. Honestly, I have to say that I don’t remember much of her performance. But I know she was in there somewhere. Other than that, I remember Ms. King for her performance in Enemy of the State opposite Will Smith. And other than those two, I remember her as the cute little girl Brenda Jenkins in 227. She had a bit part in Jerry Maguire playing the wife of Cuba Gooding, Jr’s character. Like I said before, I’m not much of a fan. But that may have to change.
Ms. King submitted a letter to the Huffington Post in order to bring attention to the racial disparity that minority actors face in Emmy nominations. According to Ms. King, the difference presents a sobering statistic. Through this year just fifty three non white actors have been nominated for Emmys out of almost one thousand possible nominations in the top four acting categories for drama and comedy. That works out to about ninety five percent of the nominations for white people while everybody else has to make due with about five percent.
Ms. King has bucked the trend of most black Hollywood actors. A lot of black actors do their best to look at nothing but the positive aspects Hollywood has to offer. It was the previously mentioned Will Smith who, upon Barack Obama’s ascension to the White House, declared that racism was over and that the black population has no more excuses. If black people want to get ahead, it is Mr. Smith’s expert opinion that all we have to do is do it. I’m sure a lot of people can appreciate Mr. Smith’s pandering. Mr. Smith feels that he can absolve the dominant community of all the racial disparities in our midst by focusing solely on the black man who happens to be President. But the rise of a single black man to become President does little to counter all the black people who have been treated less than fairly than their white peers.
Few black actors and actresses have the chutzpah not to shuck and jive for the powers that be in the entertainment industry. Few black actors are willing to voice their opinion on racial disparity. Even black superstars who can pretty much call their own shots refuse to say anything that might ruffle somebody’s feathers. It’s better to keep low, lay quiet and get paid rather than recognize problems and voice concerns. And with all the black actors and actresses ready to step forward whenever somebody working has a complaint, it’s only a matter of time before Ms. King finds herself on people’s black list for expressing her opinion about the obvious.
A lot of black actors portray characters that talk a lot of game about being black and blackness and America’s impact on the black community and such. A lot of black actors may have a lot of clout and a lot of pull in this industry. But almost without exception, black actors and actresses are not sticking their neck out to talk about anything resembling racial disparity. The last black actor that talked about racial disparity was the esteemed Dick Gregory, and he’s about as welcome in Hollywood as a botox tax. Racial disparity is a taboo subject if you want to work in this area.
At this point, it doesn’t look like Ms. King feels she has much of a future in the entertainment industry. That’s probably because she hasn’t had much of a past. She started acting on the series 227 when she was just fourteen. She has twenty five years of acting experience. She’s been working in television and in feature films. She was nominated for best actress for her performance in Ray with the Black Entertainment Television Awards, best actress with the Black Reel Awards, outstanding supporting actress with the NAACP Image Awards, and a nomination from the Screen Actors Guild for outstanding cast in a motion picture. She only won the BET Award.
If it’s any consolation Ms. King wins the Peacemaker Award for actress with the utmost integrity and genuine courage award. Ms. King going out on a limb and telling the Huffington Post exactly how she feels about the Emmy nominations process takes some real guts, not the kind that some author writes in a script. Anybody can regurgitate courage when you have a script, a director, a producer, a cast and shooting crew backing you up. But when it’s just you writing a letter that’s trying to make a difference in the world, it can get awfully scary. I do it with anonymity behind a website. Ms. King did it and put it out there for the whole world to see. She’s not some kind of rebel rouser. She’s a black woman that notices racial disparity and wants to bring it to people’s attention. It’s that kind of courage that all of us can admire.