During the Hollywood blackout in the early 1900s, African-American actors, actresses, and directors very rarely appeared in front or behind the camera.
Although early movies were filmed in black and white, Hollywood was not color blind.
However, Hattie McDaniels changed the color of Hollywood by becoming the first African-American to win an Academy Award.
McDaniels won the 1939 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her stereotypical performance as the sassy Mammy in the Hollywood classic film “Gone With The Wind.”
Subsequently, the legendary Hollywood actor Sidney Poitier became the first African-American to win the 1963 Best Actor Oscar for his powerful performance as the singing carpenter in “Lillies Of The Field.”
After McDaniels’ and Poitier’s historical Hollywood achievements, there have been a plethora of African-American actors and actresses winning the Academy Awards.
Among the African-American Hollywood actors and actresses that have won the Academy Awards, Denzel Washington won 1990 Best Supporting Actor for “Glory” and 2002 Best Actor Oscar for “Training Day,” Halle Berry won 2002 Best Actress Oscar for “Monster’s Ball,” Forest Whitaker won 2007 Best Actor Oscar for “The Last King Of Scotland,” Whoopi Goldberg won 1991 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Ghost,” Cuba Gooding won 1997 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Jerry Maguire,” Morgan Freeman won 2005 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Million Dollar Baby,” Terrence Howard won 2006 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Hustle And Flow,” and finally Jennifer Hudson won 2007 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Dreamgirls.”
However, there was a public outcry within the African-American community when Oscar Award winning actor Forest Whitaker accepted the leading character role to play a subservient White House butler in African-American director Lee Daniels’ “The Butler.”
The fictional character Cecil Gaines, co-starring Oprah Winfrey as his chain-smoking alcoholic wife, was loosely based upon a real-life White House butler Eugene Allen.
The self-assured and confident Whitaker does not apologize for his powerful Oscar worthy performance in the controversial melodrama movie “The Butler.”
“I’ve been doing this for so long, and I’ve never played a butler before,” Whitaker proudly said. “Even when I was younger, it was never about, (‘I would never play a gang member’), or (‘How can I bring a new understanding to someone?’) When I played the butler, I was trying to be true to the spirit of this man.”
Whitaker has become a renowned and respected director and producer in Hollywood. The Oscar Award winning actor has the power and ability to green light any movie.
Whitaker has directed the classic film, “Waiting To Exhale,” based upon Terry McMillan’s’ New York Times Bestseller.
The classic Hollywood movie had an all-star cast, featuring the late Whitney Houston and Gregory Hines, also Angela Bassett, Loretta Divine, Lela Rochon, and Wesley Snipes.
“When I was a kid, there was one-actor working, Sidney Poitier,” Whitaker reportedly said. “Then I think it was Cleavon Little. After that maybe Eddie Murphy started working. And there was only ever one star at a time. Now we have a multitude of actors, a multitude of actresses. The roles were limited at that time. (Now) Kerry Washington is (fixing) people’s lives in Washington It’s a whole different time.”
Whitaker has been appointed to President Barack Obama’s Committee On The Arts And Humanities.
Moreover, Atlanta Director Tyler Perry has built the mega complex studio Tyler Perry Studios adjacent to the Greenbriar Mall area in southwest Atlanta in 2009.
The color of Hollywood has invariably changed for the better with a multitude of multicultural actors, actress, directors, and producers.