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British Film Institute Delivers a Much-Deserved Love Letter to Black Female Actors

Black is beautiful.

In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar when she took home the trophy for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the head slave Mammy in Gone with the Wind. The daughter of former slaves, she wasn’t even allowed in the same building as her peers and had to accept her award in a segregated hotel. In 2002, Halle Berry also made history when she became the first African-American to win the Oscar for Best Actress for her work in Monster’s Ball.

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Though incredible women like Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson are finally getting meatier roles that often come with credit for their efforts, black women in general remain wholly under-appreciated in Hollywood. There’s still this assumption that we have to be loud and strong or the all-knowing sidekick to the best friend or just have our faces shown for a few seconds as proof of diversity—like what happened with Senator Pamlo in Rogue One.

That’s why it’s nice when organizations like the British Film Institute take the time to show a little love for black women. It doesn’t exactly fix Hollywood’s diversity problem, but it’s still a lovely gesture. The two-minute video shows different black women lighting up the screen in various roles: Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale, Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years A Slave, Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple,  Dorothy Dandridge in 1954’s Carmen Jones, blaxploitation film legend Pam Grier and so on.

According to Shadow and Act, the video is part of BFI’s Black Star project which is a program dedicated to celebrating the power and versatility of black actors. This is one of several to highlight their accomplishments and I couldn’t be happier to see this happening. Unfortunately, the project only runs through the end of the year. I’m hoping that this becomes an on-going thing because black actors (and more people of color) should be celebrated all year round.

(via Shadow and Act, image via screencap)

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