Black actresses lose out again

Ain’t Hollywood grand? I was spitting nails after reading this.

Does anyone remember the case of Chante Mallard? She is the then 27 year old black woman who was convicted in the murder of a homeless man when she hit him with her car and then left him to die in her windshield. She was sentenced to 50 years. I definitely remember this case.

Motorist given 50 year-sentence in windshield murder trial

FORT WORTH, Texas (CNN) — Jurors Friday evening sentenced Chante Mallard to 50 years for the murder of a homeless man she hit with her car and then left to die embedded in the windshield.

Mallard was sentenced to 10 years for tampering with evidence. Her sentences will be served concurrently. She was not fined for either conviction.

Under Texas law a person must serve half the term before becoming eligible for parole.

Well there’s a new movie out based on this case called Stuck. It stars Caucasian actress Mena Suvari. Not exactly a big boxoffice name folks. So Angelina Jolie wasn’t available? Mena stars in a role that could have gone to a black actress but as usual black actresses lost out on a quality role based on a true story about a black woman. Mena even wears cornrows, smdh!!! I read about this in New York Magazine.

Mena Suvari in Cornrows Apparently Just As Marketable As Actual Black Actresses

Courtesy of THINKFilm

Jezebel smartly points out the ridiculousness of Mena Suvari being cast in Stuck, an independent film coming out tomorrow. In the film, Suvari plays Brandi, a young woman who hits a homeless man (Stephen Rea) with her car late one night and, panicking, drives home and parks in the garage with the clinging-to-life victim still embedded in her windshield. The movie is based on the true story of Chante Mallard, a black woman from Fort Worth, Texas who’s currently serving 50 years in prison. In playing the movie version of Chante, Suvari — in order to “establish Brandi as a particular kind of girl from a particular place” — wears her hair in cornrows and has “ghetto-fabulous nails.”

We don’t have a lot to add to Jezebel’s skewering of this casting move, in which a role that could have been played perfectly well by a black actress is given to a white one instead. But we do wonder — why Mena Suvari? We could almost understand this kind of move if you were trying to land an Oscar winner or a box-office draw (say, Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl). But Mena Suvari? She’s a fine but not great actor; her name puts zero butts in seats. So why not cast one of the many fantastic, underused black actresses with a fame level roughly equivalent to Suvari’s?

We would love to have seen, say, Viola Davis, or Sophie Okonedo, or Gina Torres, or N’Bushe Wright, or Sanaa Lathan, or Anika Noni Rose take on this part. (We came up with that list in like twenty seconds, by the way, so presumably professional casting directors could do even better.) Any one of these women likely would have been just as good as Suvari, would have resulted in a box office no worse than the meager box office this movie is likely to have anyway, and the whole thing wouldn’t make potential audience members like us — who would otherwise be interested in a crazy-creepy-sounding thriller like this — totally queasy.

You know me and my feelings on the lack of leading quality roles for black actresses. Black actresses are woefully underutilized in Hollywood. Like New York Magazine stated a slew of black actresses could have been considered for the role of Chante Mallard. Casting directors could have gone to my website Mahogany Cafe and found plenty of black actresses for that role. Black actresses have a difficult enough time in Hollywood as it is trying to find decent roles in tv and film. The few that do get hired get stuck in supporting roles as the best friend, the shoulder to cry on, the medical examiner or whatever background role they need to drop a black actress in. Is Tyler Perry the only person hiring black actresses for leading roles? Inquiring minds wanna know!!! And what do the powers that be in Hollywood continue to do? They whitewash every true story about folks of color.

Check out the website Angels Can’t Help But Laugh. This documentary talks about the struggles of black actresses in Hollywood.

One response

  1. This story gave me a big headache today.

    But on the upside, I did link you on Twitter – gotta get it out there, right?

    I wish you would join Twitter ClassicRose! You could even link all of your blog posts to show up on it and it would be easier to keep up with you (those of us with 200+ blogs in our Google Readers that is:)

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