This awards season was nuts. It was more entertaining than it’s been in years, especially for little black girls and boys who finally got to see someone with their complexion be the belle of the ball. Lupita Nyong’o won the heart of America by slaying red carpet after red carpet and doing the damn thing as Patsey in 12 Years A Slave.
Lupita was on the cover of numerous magazines, the subject of plenty of photoshoots, and front row at a bunch of major fashion shows, she was the it-girl. Yet sadly, there’s already talk that the Kenyan beauty’s run might be over if her next move isn’t her best move.
But how do you top an award-winning role as a Black actress in an industry that’s already plagued with a limited number of roles for darker skin colors?
By changing Hollywood as we know it.
The truth of the matter is, if Lupita were light-skinned, we wouldn’t be having this conversation of what to “do” with her next.
Regardless of the hue of her flesh, it’s time for someone in Tinseltown to step up and make the movie that’s going to level the playing field. I really hope a progressive director or producer uses Lupita as an avenue to bridge the gap between races.
The Hollywood Reporter quotes a studio exec as saying:
“I don’t think she has an audience — not yet,” says one studio executive. “And there are so few roles for women of color; those roles are just not being written.”
The ones that have already been written? Well, you would find it very difficult to squeeze Lupita into any of them.
Let’s take away slaves, maids, most biopics and nannies, which roles can you see Lupita actually playing?
Lupita over Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got To Do With It? How about Lupita over Queen Latifah as Cleo in Set It Off? If you’re Oscar-winning Ms. Nyong’o, would you take the role of Nina Mosley in Love Jones? Probably not, even though Nina Mosley helped Nia Long start a great run of movies.
If Lupita was light-skinned, she might be able to follow a formula similar to Halle Berry, but she’s not. The path for Lupita is going to be different, that’s one thing I know for sure. Lupita can’t and shouldn’t play Shug Avery, Miss Sophia, or anything similar to Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball. It’s going to take someone in Hollywood with the balls big enough to cast her as Blue Jasmine, the Black Swan or the Million Dollar Baby.
Cast Lupita in one of those roles even though she doesn’t have hair like Natalie Portman. Cast in her those roles even though she’s lacking the breasts of Christina Hendricks. Cast in her those solely based on her ability to nail the lines, nail the moves and sell the part.
During her Oscar speech Lupita said, “No matter where you’re from your dreams are valid.” A lot of people dream that race and complexion will stop being such an important factor in our lives. While that dream is closer to coming true each day, it’s time for someone in Hollywood to ask the question: who says Wonder Woman can’t be black?
Does Lupita have a bright future in Hollywood? I honestly don’t know, but I know for the sake of dark little boys and girls all over the world, something has to change.
At the Essence 7th Annual Black Women In Hollywood event, the actress said:
“I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first.
And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I had been the day before. I tried to negotiate with God: I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted; I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter.
But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.”
But I do know that God works in mysterious ways, so maybe he will use Lupita to change the way complexion is made into an obstacle for darker-skinned people to overcome.
Let’s converse. Talk.
Xilla is the Sr. Entertainment Editor for GlobalGrind.com as well as CEO of the number 1 relationship blog BlogXilla.com/M2TB.com. He has been featured in XXL, The Source, Essence, LA Times and is considered one of the premiere bloggers in the industry. Follow him on twitter @BlogXilla
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Instagram