Forest Whitaker: For Blacks in Hollywood, “We’re Not at a Destination Point”

February 22nd, 2011, by

Photo by: Van Evers, TS Media, Inc.
Photo by: Van Evers, TS Media, Inc.

In this Web-exclusive clip, Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker addresses a recent piece in The New York Times entitled “Hollywood’s Whiteout,” about the absence of Black artists in the 2011 Oscar nominee class.

The article states:

The consolidation of a black presence in the movies and television did not signal the arrival of a postracial Hollywood any more than the election of Barack Obama in 2008 spelled the end of America’s 400-year-old racial drama. But it was possible, over much of the past decade, to believe that a few of the old demons of suspicion and exclusion might finally be laid to rest.

Are the coming Oscars an anomaly, or an unsettling sign of the times? The Academy, in any case, does not work in a vacuum. A look back at the American films of 2010 reveals fewer of the kinds of movies — biographies like “Ray” and urban dramas like “Training Day” — that have propelled black actors, screenwriters and directors into contention in the recent past. With a few exceptions, like the romance “Just Wright” and the ghetto farce “Lottery Ticket,” it was perhaps the whitest year for Hollywood since the post-Richard Pryor, pre-Spike Lee 1980s. The superhero, fantasy and action genres were drained of color. The urban dramas were set in Irish-American New England neighborhoods. Even the male-male buddy picture, a staple of interracial bonding since 1958, when Mr. Poitier and Tony Curtis were chained together in “The Defiant Ones,” has become a largely white-on-white affair.

“There has been a paradigm shift,” says Whitaker, who won an Academy Award in 2007 for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. “We’ve moved a long way, but we’re not at a destination point.”

Watch the Web-exclusive clip below, where Whitaker explains why he embraces technology to help with the democratization of Hollywood, and watch the video of his full conversation to find out what more he had to say.


Last modified: April 26, 2011 at 11:16 am