We often hear how hard it is for African-American actors/actresses to have long-term, successful careers in Hollywood. It is even harder for them to do so without selling their souls to the “I Will Do Anything” devils of the entertainment business. Many times their talent isn’t appreciated for its full worth and they are overlooked for roles that they would have been wonderful in. But the five talented ladies I have chosen to spotlight today have taken Hollywood and the movie industry by storm and have refused to be type cast and overlooked.
Here are 5 African-American Actresses that I Admire
Born 19 December 1933 in New York City, New York, USA. Cicely Tyson was raised in Harlem, New York by devoutly religious parents from the Caribbean island of Nevis. She was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine and, with her stunning looks, she quickly rose to the top of the modeling industry. In 1957, she began acting in Off-Broadway productions. She had small roles in feature films before she was cast as Portia in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) in 1968. Four years later, Cicely was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her sensational performance in the critically acclaimed film Sounder (1972). In 1974, she went on to portray a 110-year-old former slave in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974) (TV), which earned her two Emmys. While Cicely has not appeared steadily onscreen because of her loyalty to only portray strong, positive images of Black women, she is without a doubt one of the most talented, beautiful actresses to have ever graced the stage and screen. (bio from IMDB.com)
My favorite Cicely Tyson role was The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. This movie is a classic and Cicely Tyson made the role of Jane Pittman so life-like and believable. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is the story of a black woman in the South who was born into slavery in the 1850s and lives to become a part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. I have seen this movie countless times and each and every time I see it, I am still mesmerized by this story. It is no surprise that Cicely Tyson won two Emmys for her role in this movie. One of the main reasons I admire Cicely Tyson is that she is very careful of the roles she chooses to accept. She has stated that she chooses to accept roles that portray strong images of black women. She stands strong on her desire to display the beauty and strength of blackness and for this she should be applauded
Other Cicely Tyson tidbits
- Co-founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem with Arthur Mitchell
- Is the first African-American Actress to win an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie for her performance in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
- Honorary Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Yesterday as I was rummaging through some old photos I ran across one that made me want to immediately tear it up and do some “Waiting to Exhale” type shit. It definitely put me in a Bernie type mood. Sitting there holding that photo I could almost see myself standing outside with a cigarette not giving a fuck lol
The smiling, or should I say smirking, face on the photo was that of my ex boyfriend James. Even from the photo one could tell that he was up to no good; so why did it take me so long to realize that this man has issues and more issues. Maybe it was his warm embrace or his soft kisses. Maybe it was the sense of security he gave me every time he was around. Or maybe it was that $725 check he wrote for my rent every month, either way I didn’t see through his web of deceit until I had given him my heart, amongst other things.
James was the kind of man who would make you so mad, then love you so good. He had a way about him that just spoke to a woman’s heart. From the outside looking in you would say “Now that’s a do-right-man.” BUT and I say BUT sternly, because unless you got to know James you would continue to think he was a do-right-man…UNTIL you woke up one morning with a note beside your pillow like I did.
I remember as if it were yesterday, mainly because it was James’ birthday. He had spent the night at my apartment and when I woke up the next morning he was gone. On his pillow lay a note in pretty, soft paper. I unfolded it and the first words I saw were “its over.” The next line read, “It’s been good, but sorry it has to end.”
I KNEW I was dreaming. There was no way in the “real” world that I had been dumped while I was sleeping AND given a damn Dear John Letter on pink stationery. This shit here was impossible. I turned over, closed my eyes and decided that I would take my ass back to sleep so that I could end this horrible nightmare.
Of course I didn’t actually go to sleep but I did close my eyes extremely tight in hopes that when I turned over there would not be a pretty, pink You Are Dumped letter lying next to me. Of course when I turned over it was still there. Reality set in and the tears began to stream down my face. How could someone be so cold as to dump you while you are sleeping? How could he be that less of a man that he took the time to sit at my desk and write me a Dear John Letter on my own pink stationery. That was cold.
That day went by for me in a blur. I called James a gazillion times; he didn’t answer once. By the third day my eyes went from being bloodshot from crying to being bloodshot with rage. I had called in to work all three days, so I had plenty of time to sit around the house and mope and cry and cry and mope.
By day four I was in full crazy woman mode. I would get so mad just pacing the floor that I would need something to tear up and destroy. After I had broken one of my favorite vases and knocked a few knick knacks off the shelf I realized that this was my shit that I was tearing up. Shit that I paid for with my own money. Aww hell naw I had to snap out of that delusional state quickly. I may have been in a crazed state but I wasn’t crazy!
After calling James a few more times and realizing that he was hitting reject each time I called , I decided I should pay him a little visit. There is nothing more up close and personal than an unexpected visit from a woman scorned who has an ice pick and knows how to use it. I decided that I would call my sister as I drove, just so she could be on standby in case I needed bail money later.
Of course she tried to talk me out of popping up at James’ home, but this was a trip I couldn’t turn back on. James needed to see me face to face. He needed to see how hurt I was and how hurt he was going to be if he did not get to explaining. As I drove along, I thought of all the things I could possibly do to him. The first list included hitting him in the head with the big stone flower pot that he kept on his front porch, sticking all four of his tires with the ice pick and throwing a huge object that would somehow be in hands reach through his front window. That list sounded good to me until I realized that those things would land me in jail and knowing now that James was low-down, that sucker would press charges. I would be thrown under the jail all because of his pretty ass Dear John Letter.
As I gathered up ideas for the second list of things, my phone rang. It was my mother. I should have known better than to tell my sister anything about this. If she hears the word bitch she gets antsy, so I should have known that telling her of my violent plan was a no-no.
Now I had my mother on the line and she was going on and on about bulldaggers in jail and how she only had $125 in her rainy day fund so I would have to sit in jail a while unless she asked the family to raise money to get me out. Which she then explained would make them want to know why I was in jail, and she would then have to tell them how her stupid daughter went and cut a man for dumping her.
The next thing I remember is hearing a car horn blaring. I was at the red-light, it had turned green and I was still sitting there. I decided right then and there that I would not go to James’ house. I would not cut him, throw anything at him, stick any tires or burn up any cars (that was on the 2nd list) I would instead, go home, turn on some Anita Baker and accept the fact that James had dumped me with no explanation at all. I would accept the fact that even though I was hurting and angry I could not act on these feelings. I could not have my Bernie moment
That night I decided that I would watch “Waiting to Exhale.” I would order some Chinese take out, drink some good wine and cry. I would live out my Bernie moment through Bernie’s actual moment. I would allow her vengeance to be mine. Lord knows I wanted to go cut that man, I even had a particular knife I wanted to use, lol, but I knew I had to let go of that anger. I had to accept James for what he was, a pink Dear John Letter writing asshole.