Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Here's my take on the controversy. Yes, it's ridiculous all the acting nominations were for "white" actors (I put that in quotes because it's pretty meaningless, as is "black"—we're all shades, but very few of us are actually black or white and the terms are meant to mean some sort of racial ancestry but "race" is a human construct, when I was a boy my people were considered to be of the Irish race which when my father was born in 1899 was considered by the English and most "Americans" (another distorted term since it is usually meant for residents of the USA which is only a part of the Americas) to be "an inferior race")...

...but the most glaring missing performance by a "black" actor is one that no one as far as I have read or heard or seen has even mentioned: Abraham Attah. He is the star of BEASTS OF NO NATION and in his first acting role on screen gives one of the most varied, nuanced and overwhelmingly powerful performances in the history of filmmaking.

Yet most commentators, celebrities or not, mention the supporting role of his commander played by Idris Elba, a fine performance and worthy of an Oscar nomination for sure, but Attah's is far more impressive to me, as someone who has acted in films and experienced the challenges. And it occurs to me that even well intentioned movie stars and others in the public eye are quick to use Elba as the example of a great performance by a "black" actor being overlooked, because Elba has become a celebrity too, is famous and critically acclaimed and was even mentioned as the possibly first "black" James Bond.

I was told once that a character I played in a recurring role on NYPD BLUE was going to be pushed for Emmy recognition, but when it came time, the "guest star" award went to someone who was already a "star" and was forced by circumstances, or just decided, to take a "guest star" role. It always strikes me that the nominations for TV show "guest stars" and movie "supporting actors" almost always go to stars who for whatever reason have taken a smaller role, while the actors who put their life's worth of talent and experience and hard work into some amazing portrayal in a true supporting role, but are relatively unknown, most often go unheralded.

Everyone responds to name and/or image recognition and often media hype. Even the rebels who are boycotting the Oscars this year. They should be pounding Abraham Attah's name into the consciousness of every movie lover.

And as for "diversity" and the need for it in Hollywood films and award nominations, yes there should definitely be more roles and more recognition for the talent of "black" actors and directors and writers etc. But also, when was the last time a disabled actor was nominated for an Oscar, or an Asian-American or Native American or etc. etc. et-endlessly-cetera?

Hollywood could certainly use more diversity, of all kinds.

[PS: In no way does the above post mean to imply that skin "color" or lack of it doesn't play a role historically and still in the atrocities perpetrated on "people of color"...]

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