Iyin Landre is an actress. She’s determined. She also happens to be Asian.
Iyin points out how she believes her race may be a hindrance in Hollywood when it comes to getting cast in films. As she demonstrates through her video, it seems casting directors only view her through a stereotypical lens. Whether it’s been the woman who provides manicures at the nail salon, or the buttoned up scientist in a lab, Iyin believes she’s more than just an ancillary character in somebody’s picture. She aspires to be the leading lady one day.
Thanks to KickStarter, that day has come sooner then she probably realized. Iyin successfully raised more than $75K for her independent feature entitled “Me + You.” Instead of lamenting the fact that she wasn’t getting consistent work and sitting by the phone, Iyin took action and is now making the films and characters that she wants to see. Gotta respect the hustle. Here’s the Kickstarter link.
So I caught the Melissa Harris-Perry show last week on MSNBC and really enjoyed many of the segments that were featured. She and her panelists spoke on voter disfranchisement in North Carolina, the women’s NCAA Tournament, and the use of language in regards to the immigration debate here in the U.S, among other things.
It was the discussion on the ABC hit show “Scandal” that really caught my attention. Not so much that I’m a regular viewer (I haven’t watched “Scandal” in more than a year) but the makeup of MHP’s panel was striking in that it was entirely made up of black women. The panel consisted of Janet Mock, Andrea Plaid, Heather McGhee, and Joy-Ann Reid. In more than 20 years of watching TV on a fairly regular basis, I don’t ever recall seeing a panel featuring just black women on a major news network. Hat tip to Melissa Harris-Perry and MSNBC.
Queen Latifah is probably recognized more these days for her films than her rap career, but her music continues to leave an impact almost 20 years later.
Some of Latifah’s more notable film roles occurred with movies such as: “Brown Sugar,” “Valentines Day,” “Barbershop 2,” and 2010’s “Just Wright;” in which she starred opposite rapper, Common. Much like how Ice Cube, Will Smith, and LL Cool J made the transition from music to film, so did Latifah.
Being that this is Women’s History Month (and today happens to be Queen Latifah’s birthday), I think it’s fitting that we revisit Queen Latifah’s earlier days when she was just one of a handful of female MCs by way of Newark, New Jersey. Her single, “U.N.I.T.Y.,” which was released in early 1994, spoke out about the derogatory names and mistreatment of women in society. It’s message continues to speak volumes even today.
46 years ago this month, the world said goodbye to Dorothy Dandridge.
Dorothy Dandridge is a name that is too often forgotten when it comes to women in the early days of Hollywood. Everyone has heard of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and the like. Well, Dandridge was every bit the onscreen presence these women were, but as a black actress in the 40s and 50s it was hard to get noticed and even harder to find consistent work. Hell, truth be told it’s still hard for women of color to find steady work in Hollywood and get recognized (see Taraji P. Henson).
What makes Dandridge so compelling is the fact that she wasn’t just an actress, but a singer as well. She was what you would call an all around entertainer. Perhaps best known for her work as Carmen in the movie ‘Carmen Jones,’ Dandridge was electrifying on screen and would even garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in 1954. She didn’t win, but maybe more importantly, she proved she belonged.
Sadly, ‘Carmen Jones’ proved to be the high point of Dorothy’s career as she would spend the next decade with diminishing roles and increasingly high personal debt. The fact that she was even able to get prominent roles in Hollywood films could be seen as an accomplishment in itself considering the rampant racial discrimination of her era. Dandridge’s career might best be described in the last line of her biography on her IMDB page: “Had she been born 20 years later, Dorothy Dandridge would no doubt be one of the most well-known actresses in film history.”