Can Gabrielle Union Have A Second Breakthrough Or Is It Too Late?
Gabrielle Union has been typecast as the pretty,young, black woman looking for love in most of her movies. I have read other message boards and the consensus is Gabrielle Union is probably battling skin tone racism and sexism. Halle Berry is the top black actress in Hollywood, yet all her recent movies have bombed. Perfect Stranger was pure crap and Catwoman my goodness what was Halle thinking when she chose that role?
What does this say for other black women in Hollywood when even A list superstar multi millionaire Halle Berry is struggling? I think this is really scary. The problem is, Hollywood will use Berry’s lack of recent success as a litmus test and judge other black women. You can just hear a studio executive say “why should we give another black female a leading role when Halle Berry can’t make us money.” It is not fair but this is the kind of attitude Hollywood has. “Dreamgirls” was a huge hit making over $100 million at the domestic box office and that film was centered around black women.
It is not politically correct to say this but I think this kind of myopic thinking does take place in Hollywood. I think this is the reason you hardly ever see any black actress other then Halle Berry or Queen Latifah in leading lady roles in the movies. Berry gets all the leading lady roles not just due to her talent but also because she has crossover appeal. Berry has a Eurocentric appearance and even she hasn’t had much success in the past few years.
Angela Bassett is a superior actress than Berry but she’s considered “too black” and “too dark”. Angela Bassett is also almost fifty years old. Gabrielle Union is still young enough to have a breakthrough. Unfortunately, Gabrielle Union falls into the category she’s not considered “crossover potential” which is a code word for being “too black” and “too dark”.
Gabrielle has been segregated in the black romantic comedy genre for almost a decade. I wish Gabrielle had the opportunity to show her ability she isn’t even given a chance. I think this is the most frustrating part. I mean even Gabrielle must be sick of always hunting for a man in every single movie she has been in. Isn’t there more to the black female experience then seeking romance? What about personal ambition or goals? What about a personal struggle internal or external why can’t that be explored in the movies?
I am sure Gabrielle craves for more tougher roles. I must point out I am not suggesting black romantic comedies are bad. I enjoyed “The Best Man”, “Two Can Play That Game”, “Last Holiday” and other black romantic comedies. Enough is enough there is more to the black experience then romantic films.
All I am suggesting is I want change to take place. I would like to see Gabrielle Union in more serious dramatic films and I am sure she wants this too. Gabrielle is a good actress when given the right material. The problem is Hollywood ignores black women for the big leading lady roles. The screenwriters write most of the scripts for white women. The very few dramatic films made for black women go to Halle Berry or Queen Latifah. Gabrielle Union is lucky at least she is a well known black actress. At least Gabrielle is on the list and gets a shot at an audition.
The dilemma for Gabrielle Union is, when a dramatic piece is created for a black actress usually several other black women are also fighting for the exact same role. The question has to be asked, is the public a part of the problem? Are we to blame the black audience? All Hollywood cares about is box office. If a movie does well they will repeat the formula five million times until the formula no longer works.
I think Gabrielle is at a crossroads in her career she is thirty five years old. In a few years, Gabrielle won’t be getting the romantic comedy roles the studios will pass over her for younger actresses. Gabrielle’s last film “The Perfect Holiday” bombed at the box office last month.
Earlier in 2007, Gabrielle was in the Tyler Perry film “Daddy’s Little Girls”. “Daddy’s Little Girls” was more successful making over $30 million dollars. The Tyler Perry film was the first time Gabrielle was the leading lady in a movie she did a good job.
I am not suggesting Gabrielle isn’t trying to shift genres and add layers to her acting. I remember she was on a ABC television show “Night Stalker” in 2005 I really enjoyed “Night Stalker”. Unfortunately, ABC canceled the show after just six episodes. ABC didn’t even give Gabrielle Union a chance to shine. It was such a shame because the show was just starting to really take off. On the “Night Stalker” show Gabrielle was a crime reporter it was a different role and she was excellent.
I know this won’t sound politically correct but why does Hollywood always think black people we are the life of the party? I am not going to knock Tyler Perry he has a right to make his movies. My argument is, why aren’t there other young black filmmakers besides Tyler Perry? Where are the black female filmmakers besides Kasi Lemmons?
The only dramatic films Hollywood releases about black people are feel good garbage such as “The Great Debaters”. Notice the film “The Great Debaters” is about heterosexual black men at the center. I am not interested in a history lesson. I want to be challenged when I see a movie and entertained. What about the rest of us? Don’t we matter? Why are the only dramatic films about black people are released at the end of the year? What about other times of the year?
Another question is, where is the diversity in black films? Why do all the films about black people always have to be about black heterosexual men? What about gay black people? Where do we fit in we are so invisible. When was the last time you saw a big budget film about black gays? The answer is never. Why can’t there be films about black gays and lesbians released in theatres? I hear the Noah’s Arc film is going to be released this year. The question is ,will Noah’s Arc have an audience beyond the gay community? Will black people gay and straight bother to watch the Noah’s Arc film? How will the Noah’s Arc film be marketed to reach a black audience?
I am cognizant of the fact Hollywood is a business that has a formula system. Hollywood is always about profit and making money. Why can’t Hollywood realize people want to see black women in other genres besides romantic comedies? Why can’t Gabrielle Union be in an action drama with a black female lead, or a detective movie, or a science fiction film, or a serious dramatic piece?
Twelve years ago “Set It Off” an amazing action drama about black women that were fighting the system. The movie starred Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A Fox, and Kimberly Elise. “Set It Off” was a hit making over $41 million worldwide despite having only a $9 million dollar budget. You would think Hollywood would take a hint? We want to see black women in other genres. Also, we want to see more then just Halle Berry or Beyonce Knowles.
I crave for more to see talented young black actors in other genres beyond the myopic romantic comedy genre. The quandary is, the romantic comedy sphere is considered a “safe bet” for Hollywood when dealing with blacks. Hollywood tends to make these films at low budgets and even if they bomb there is a low risk. It is so insulting to black film viewers that we don’t have enough choice. Maybe it is our fault? I mean how hard is it to distribute movies? It is clear to me more young black people need to get involved in the film business. We cannot cry and complain about Tyler Perry or bitch and moan about Spike Lee. I want to see new voices from younger black filmmakers. You know people under the age of thirty five!
Black people we are complex three dimensional people just like everyone else. Why is it the dramatic films about blacks always has to be about someone that is noble or perfect? Why can’t dramatic films about blacks demonstrate we have flaws as well we are not perfect. Why can’t a black drama not be a damn message movie! I think this is the reason I cringe when I hear all the hype about “The Great Debaters.” I am sorry to say those kinds of movies bore me they don’t interest or inspire me at all.
I would like too see more black dramatic films where risks are taken, I know black people and other people want to see something different then the garbage the studio system releases to the public.
However, I have noticed Gabrielle has not crossed over into the mainstream. I wonder why? I wonder is this Gabrielle’s choice or not? I hear she’s going to be in an Eddie Murphy movie another comedy this year called “Starship Dave”. I guess I am waiting in vain for Gabrielle Union to breakthrough and get the acclaim she deserves. Gabrielle has attempted to diversify her acting resume, she was in a dramatic film last year called Constellation. It was very unfortunate that once again the black audience ignored a serious dramatic film Constellation and the black media just didn’t provide any publicity for that film.
Another film that I am very excited about is Neo Ned. Neo Ned was screened on the independent film circuit two years ago and has won numerous awards and has fan approval. However, almost three years later Neo Ned not been released. Neo Ned has still not acquired distribution. Go to http://www.neoned.com to read the reviews about this incredible film. It has been over two years yet still no distribution deal. I don’t get it? Neo Ned is clearly Gabrielle Union’s best performance, the film is controversial but it is an independent film. I really hope Gabrielle can find another serious dramatic piece such as Neo Ned she has talent but why won’t anyone give her the opportunity to shine?