Oscar Bound and Bounced: New Book Challenges Award's Benefits for Minority Actors

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New book details how miinority archetypes used for profit by movie studios limit opportunities even for minority actors who win or are nominated for the epitome of success, an Academy Award.

As movie fans ready for the 80th Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24, a new book by Frederick Gooding, Jr., details the evaporating benefits for minority actors who win this award.

"The 2001 Academy Awards were an exhilarating, and historic, event. For the first time ever, minority actors earned top honors in both the Best Actor and Best Actress categories: Denzel Washington for Training Day and Halle Berry for Monster's Ball," notes Gooding, author of You Mean, There's Race in My Movie?.

Yet the optimism stemming from the 2001 Academy Awards did not open the floodgates of profit and profile to diversity within Hollywood, says Gooding; the former trial attorney points to these post-Oscar fates for these exceptional actors:
    o Jamie Foxx in Stealth, his first role post-Ray, involves a character who dies before the first plot complication.
    o Halle Berry in Catwoman, where she was claws and hiss, and not much else.
    o Jennifer Hudson will "star" in Sex and the City: The Movie as . . . Carrie's Assistant?
    o Don Cheadle, nominated for the 2005 Best Actor Award for his compelling work in Hotel Rwanda, experienced a nearly three-year hiatus from any prominent role.

Since that "watershed" moment in 2001, a few other minority actors have been nominated or won Academy Awards, only not to appear to directly profit from such newfound notoriety and fame.

While the favor is not enjoyed by minority actors, the same is not true for studios, notes Gooding, who began The Minority Reporter, a news bureau on issues in minorities and entertainment business, and is based in Washington, DC.

"Oftentimes when casting a Black character in a mainstream movie, studios lean on the talents of an established Black music artist or comedian, reducing a movie's overall risk, since many of these rappers and comedians have already demonstrated that their name can generate mainstream attention and capital," says Gooding. "These Black celebrities already have a built-in, financially proven audience that can help the studio recoup its initial investment, and draw an audience that might not have otherwise patronized a certain movie (e.g., Erykah Badu and Biz Markie in Cider House Rules).

Unfortunately, Hollywood's increasing reliance on Black rappers and comedians has come at the expense of "classically trained" Black actors, who already face a disadvantage landing parts in mainstream movies.

Thus, Hudson, as a finalist for one of the top-rated and highest watched shows in television history, American Idol, was in many senses used by Hollywood for the audience that she would attract while still "hot" under the national spotlight's glare. Hudson's subsequent casting in Sex and the City: The Movie indicates the background role Hollywood truly envisions for her true "acting" future.

The Minority Reporter is the first source for the latest and most in depth commentary on use of racial archetypes in movies, including the new book, You Mean, There's Race in My Movie? For more information, or to schedule an interview with Frederick Gooding, Jr, please contact:

Kelly Powers
Obie Joe Media
410-215-2262 kelly @ obiejoe.com

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