Let me tell you why Viola Davis' Emmy acceptance speech had me crying real tears.
If you haven't seen her speech, watch it below.
As a black woman who is trying to make it in this world of acting, especially starting out, you have to depend on others to see something in you, to take a chance on you, to give you an opportunity. It is at times hard to want to keep working. I see soooo many castings similar to --->seeking Caucasian Woman - 5'5-5'8 - blonde or brown hair, etc and I get extremely frustrated because of that. I'm not frustrated because of the casting (white women have to work too), I'm frustrated because of the abundance of castings (black women have to work too).
This takes you to what media considers acceptable which turns into what society considers acceptable and then turns into what we ourselves (black people) consider acceptable.
When I was young, I went to an African centered school, where all of the teachers and all of the children looked like me, where I actually learned my history beyond MLK and Rosa Parks, where I was told that I was beautiful. Once I left that school, my confidence began to fade because I no longer felt beautiful. With everything that I had learned about how powerful we were as a people, the things that we'd brought into existence in this world and that I could be just as powerful and bring into life just as much and more; my self confidence was based on beauty and the fact that I no longer saw it in myself. I cried tears because even in my adult life, I sometimes look at other women, in this case actresses who are trying to make it just like me and say to myself you have a better chance than I do.
My mother told me before not to tell people my insecurities because they can and sometimes will use them against you. It's true, I've had that happen where someone did take something I told them I did not like and turned it into a jab at a later time. BUT, I look at the ambiguous girl with the narrow nose and chin, doe shaped eyes and oval face and at times and only for a moment I get jealous because she is closer to what white media considers beautiful and what they are willing to take a chance on. If at some point they're casting an AA woman, it's likely to be someone like that...or even a brown (caramel toned) woman but she has to have those features. Me-I'm completely black without a doubt, my complexion and everything from the shape of my nose to my jaw line and even the shape of my mouth, from my shoulders to my posture, really everything except my ass lol. And while I can look at someone who looks exactly like me and think they are beautiful, I look at myself and I see what that casting director is not looking for and for all the reasons s/he is not looking for it. This isn't new though, I've felt this even before deciding to be an actress.
...and so I contour my nose, chin and face because that's what is acceptable.
I remember telling a friend that majority of the major black women in film and television fit the standard of beauty because although their complexions are different, their features are basically the same - narrowly brimmed noses and oval faces that end at pointed chins and slim jaw lines.
So I cried real tears because I'm waiting for the exception to become the rule...
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