Can Gabrielle Union Have A Second Breakthrough Or Is It Too Late?

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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?

About orvillelloyddouglas

I am a gay black Canadian male.

14 responses to “Can Gabrielle Union Have A Second Breakthrough Or Is It Too Late?”

  1. pkake2000 says :

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  2. janice says :

    Why no distribution two words black Hitler. No three, black female Hitler. Even better black female Hitler in interracial romance with a Nazi. I’m still waiting for it but i don’t think it will see the light of day unless GU or JR hit it big.

  3. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    You got a point Janice about the obvious fear distributors may have over the film. However, Gabrielle’s character Rachel is actually pretending to have the soul of Hitler in her body. Ned and Rachel meet in a mental institution. Shouldn’t independent film be about expanding boundaries. The movie certainly does not glorify Hitler at all. I think Neo Ned should at least get an Art House or Limited Release. I’ve been waiting too for a very long time. I mean, if the producers wanted this movie on DVD they could of done that two years ago. It is obvious to me the producers of Neo Ned want a theatre release. I think the distributors should wake up and realize people want to see this movie. Yes Neo Ned is controversial but it forces everyone to think about social issues. I really hope Neo Ned is released this year but I am not holding my breath. I am very proud of Gabrielle Union for taking on this role because its a very complex dramatic film and its the best work she’s ever done.

  4. janice says :

    I like GU, but she does have a one note performance problem but I think this is due to the lack of diverse work. She needs to continue working in “low budget” films, expand her scope.

  5. aulelia says :

    I agree that we do want to see more than halle & beyonce. I think the issue with Gabrielle Union is exactly what Janice said about her not doing low budget films. She needs to do independent films, maybe she should look beyond the US. Independent films are massive here in Europe; if one of them becomes a monster, then people in Hollyweird will start noticing or maybe she should create her own projects. However, she may even just be happy doing romcoms…who knows?

  6. Stephanie B. says :

    I love to see Gabrielle in more diverse roles other than the ones Hollywood place her in. Hollywood wants to put Black women in their places, in one-dimensional roles, in a comedic box. They don’t want to see the range and the diversity that Black actresses offer. That’s a sad commentary not just in Hollywood but in the larger society as well.

    Stephanie B.

  7. Izzy says :

    Gabrielle is a mediocre actress who is single handedly ruining Ugly Betty per episode. She couldn’t hold a candle up in her standoff scene with Vanessa Williams. Her look is neither indy or dramatic feature. Stick to Tyler Perry-type movies Miss Thing.

  8. Mes Deux Cents says :

    Hi,

    A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Why do we expect Hollywood to make films that are actually representative of who we are?

    Hollywood has been making films with Black people in the same roles since Birth of a Nation and yet each year we keep hoping they will suddenly have an epiphany and make a different kind of film?

    And I don’t mean you specifically; I’m talking in general terms.

    There are now a few dozen Black actors with the money to make or produce films. That should be the focus; Black people making Black fiilms.

    If Denzel and Will got together I’m sure they could make quality films.

    Bye the way I’ve never seen a Tyler Perry film and I have no interest in ever seeing one. I’m tired of movies that mock Black women, i.e. Norbit, Madea, etc.

  9. Mes Deux Cents says :

    I have one more thing to say, since I didn’t really answer your question. Which was can Gabby Union breakthrough?

    My answer is hasn’t she already broken through? She makes at least one or two films a year. She’s famous. I’m sure she makes a nice salary.

    What does it mean to break through> that she’s famous in White circles?

    Maybe my perspective is just different. Most of the so-called famous White actors are not very well know by me. For example when Heath Ledger died I at first had know idea who he was. Did that mean he had not broken through?

    So maybe my standard of success is different from most peoples. I think Gabby has a fine career. I hope she will be offered more complex roles of course but short of that I think she broke through a long time ago.

    And just so you know, this isn’t a rant. I just find your topic very interesting. :)

    Thanks!

  10. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    Mes Deux Cents you are entitled to your opinions that’s what a blog is about freedom of expression and discussion. Please feel free to express yourself. I do think Gabrielle has had a breakthrough but my issue is she needs another one. Gabrielle has been typecast in black romantic comedies for far too long. Gabrielle has tried to diversify her work. She was on the ABC show Night Stalker it is available on DVD. ABC didn’t give Night Stalker a chance. Gabrielle did an excellent job as the crime reporter Perri Reed.

    Neo Ned is a low budget movie Gabrielle got the best reviews of her career for her performance in Neo Ned. The movie got so much press in 2006 winning numerous awards at independent film festivals. Gabrielle also was in Constellation another independent film once again the black media ignored her performance. Gabrielle is trying really hard. I just love Gabrielle Union. I have seen clips of Neo Ned and I find Gabrielle’s performance amazing. Go to http://www.neoned.com read the reviews about Gabby’s incredible acting in this film. I wish Neo Ned gets released this year. I wonder if I am waiting in vain. I have been dying to see this movie for almost three years now.

  11. theblackactor.com says :

    I ain’t gon say nothing; as I haven’t closely examined her work.

    Why?

    Cuz half the movies she performs in I’ve not seen because I’ve not been interested in them.

  12. Mes Deux Cents says :

    Thanks for the info, this is the first I’m hearing about Neo Ned.

  13. Maur!3ll3 Hunt says :

    i think Gabrielle Union’s work is amazing. I have watched almost every movie she’s been in and she is a great actress. I am her #1 fan! Keep it up Gabby.

  14. BlackCowboy says :

    Though 56,I should be getting leading man roles because of what many ladies have said are my handsome black cowboy looks,but in addition to my age and blackness,the fact that,as a Country singer/song-writer who speaks
    with a braying tenor voice which belies my size(I’m a muscular,beefy 5-9,218 lb.,so think steer wrestler or “bull-dogger,” gals!)rather than a
    deeper “urban”-read:”black” intonation,I’d almost SURELY be miscast by
    producers,so I’m writing a 2010′s North America-set,black cowboy James Bond equivalent novel-with nods to my being a black Canadian lad rather than a white U.K. one-and upon its completion,pitch it to(presumably)indie
    Hollywood producers who might be more amenable to working with an older newbie actor such as myself.Should the book be turned into a screen play,I wish to play the leading man,and guess who’d by my leading lady?
    That voluptuous beauty Gabby U.!!!!

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