I saw an interesting article recently in which Idris Elba, one of my favorite actors, went out of his way to give his true feelings about the Oscars. You know the Oscars, those awards that black people never get unless they yank out a breast or act like they want to kill other black people.
In an appearance at a university, Elba made this statement: “Halle Berry and I were the only two black actors nominated for this year’s Golden Globes (Idris for Lutherand Halle for Frankie & Alice). The Oscars aren’t designed for us…let’s focus on making more films.”
I couldn’t agree more with Idris on this issue, and I find myself consistently saddened by the fact that African American actors and actresses continuously seek their professional validation from a group of individuals who have clearly proven themselves incapable of evaluating African American talent. Films like “Malcolm X” are ignored by the Oscars, while Denzel Washington received every accolade in the world for his performance in “Training Day.” His work in “Training Day” was one of the few times Denzel played a role that was in contrast to the brand he’s built as a righteous, intelligent and respectable African American male. It was after Denzel’s award that I personally decided that I would never turn on the Oscars ceremony again. By giving Denzel that trophy, they insulted all of us.
African American actors and actresses should take a note from Elba’s page and simply focus on making good films. More importantly, we must develop the business acumen to green light our own movies and find our own sources of financing. The truth is that Hollywood was designed without us having a seat at the table, and you can’t move into someone else’s house expecting to shift around the furniture. We might protest, yell and scream about not getting Oscars and Emmys and other useless awards, but the truth is that our need for validation from the descendants of our historical oppressors is a debilitating psychological handicap that comes right out of slavery. I have yet to hear any white actor or actress complain about never receiving an NAACP Image Award, primarily because both black and white Hollywood have agreed that the white awards shows set the standards of excellence and credibility.
As long as we keep trying to play the game by someone else’s rules, we are always going to finish in second place. It’s time for Black Hollywood to find its way to independence and set its own benchmarks of great performance. Good job on your comments Idris, I am proud of you.