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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Casting Wishlist for Black Women in Hollywood

It's safe to say that roles for black women in Hollywood are beyond scarce. And a diversity of roles are even harder to come by. In honor of Black History Month, check out a list of real life characters destined for a big screen debut, and the actresses who could play them:

REGINA KING as Shirley Chisholm: King herself reportedly expressed interest in playing the late great politician/activist, and bringing her story to the big screen. It's not hard to picture it. Both women are smart, outspoken, and have never seen a barrier they couldn't break. Let's hope this movie sees the light of day.

VIOLA DAVIS as Nina Simone: Although the big wigs in Hollywood seem dead set on a Nina Simone movie with R&B singer Mary J. Blige as the legendary songbird, wouldn't it be cool to see this year's Oscar frontrunner tackle the complexities of Simone's character instead? Just saying...

JURNEE SMOLETT as Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman: Goodness knows Hollywood has been sleeping on Smollett's talent for far too long. And we rarely get to see black woman on the big screen get to achieve a major accomplishment or set any records. Smollett's quiet yet passionate style can do justice to Coleman's legend as the first black female pilot.

KIMBERLY ELISE as Lorraine Hansberry: She may not much resemble the late great playwright (and she's a bit longer in the tooth), but Elise is arguably one of the best actresses of color in the game who could dignify Hansberry's story. And who wouldn't want to see a movie detailing the life of the first black woman to ever write a play that was produced on Broadway (A Raisin in the Sun)?

ANIKA NONI ROSE as Lil Hardin: Though the autobiography of musician Louis Armstrong's second wife Lil Hardin never saw the light of day, it would be interesting to see what she would have written had she been able to finish it before her death. A wonderful jazz musician in her own right, something tells me Hardin's story would be just as juicy as one of her late husband. With Rose's Broadway experience and acclaimed musical background, she could be the right one to step into Hardin's shoes.

KIM WAYANS as Angela Davis: Last year we saw the work and beliefs of political activist and leader Angela Davis illuminated in the underrated documentary Black Power Mixtape. If that movie did anything, it really proved how much a story of the icon is screaming for a big screen debut. In Living Color comedienne Wayans, who's recently expressed interest in taking on more dramatic roles since her turn in Pariah, would be a good fit to play the icon.

QUEEN LATIFAH as Zora Neale Hurston: We've seen so many movies about other authors, why not one about Their Eyes Were Watching God scribe, Zora Neale Hurston? Other than writing one of the most respected novels of all time, Hurston was also a known political advocate, whose work often challenged the wide perception of African-Americans throughout the Harlem Renaissance.

SALLI RICHARDSON as Lena Horne: Richardson previously expressed interest in tackling the role of late actress and singer Horne, which wouldn't be a bad idea. Though Richardson has been typecast in an array of pretty girl roles, she had a breakthrough performance in last year's indie drama I Will Follow. Horne having died less than two years ago, it's a wonder why there hasn't been more Hollywood rumblings of a big screen story based on her life.

ADEPERO ODUYE as Leontyne Price: We're not sure if Pariah star Adepero Oduye can sing, but her voice could always be dubbed for a much needed Leontyne Price movie. The personal life of the respected opera singer, who became one of the first black singers to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera, is largely undocumented. As one of Price's most famous roles as Bess in George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess continues to heat up the Broadway stage, it would be nice to see her life story get a big screen treatment.


Kimberly Renee said...

Oh...My..Effing...Gosh! I love, love, love this list. Dear Hollywood, please read and take heed.

HazelEyedErica said...

Great list! I can also see Queen Latifah playing Pearl Bailey.

Vernetta R. Freeney said...

If I had the money I would produce every single one of these films. Every one of these actresses are well qualified to play those roles. I am working on a list for the 100 greatest black woman films of all time. I would love for help to add films until we get to 100.

Creative Radiance said...

I love everyone of these actresses, you're right!!! Actually... except... and you're about to roll your eyes at me... Queen Latifah. I like her as a rapper, not an actress.

Hal said...

Great choices. I'd like to see Sharon Leal get the opportunity at a Horne bio. I could see Rose as Bessie Coleman as well.

Brittani Burnham said...

I love this list! Such excellent choices.

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