Can a Black Actress Play the Girlfriend?


Did you even think twice about Eva Mendes playing the leading lady in Hollywood’s latest blockbuster Hitch opposite Will Smith? I am sure some of you did, if not don’t feel bad I didn’t either, but Newsweek has posted a very eye-opening article from their March 14 issue concerning black actresses and the parts they play, or don’t play in recent Hollywood films.

The article, titled “Why Can’t a Black Actress Play the Girlfriend?”, asks just that and opens our eyes to the fact that these days African-American leading men tend to be cast opposite Latinas instead of black actresses… Apparently Hollywood doesn’t think America is ready for, say, Mos Def and Kate Hudson heating up the screen—though out in the real America, more black men are married to white women than to Latinas.

The primary example in the article is Mendes in Hitch, but it is also pointed out that in Drumline it was Zoe Saldana and in Honey it was Jessica Alba.

The most resounding words were spoken by one of the sexiest actresses out there if you ask me, Nia Long, who was quoted as saying, “two black characters equals a black film and not just a movie about two people… If we can’t play the girlfriend, then Hollywood has to figure out what to do with us.”

Eva Mendes seems to be caught in the middle, as she is grateful for the roles she has been given, she also sees the flipside and doesn’t find it to appealing. She was quoted in the article saying, “Certainly I’ve benefited, because I’ve got to work with Ice Cube, Denzel and Will. But it’s lame. I wish the mentality wasn’t so closed.”

Whether this is simply a coincidence or an upcoming Hollywood trend it should be dealt with because the last thing needed in film is a rewind to the days of yore because as the article puts it, “No right-thinking person wants to see Hollywood resegregated.”

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