At this year’s Emmy Awards, Viola Davis gave one of the most beautiful, impassioned acceptance speeches I have ever heard. While being poignant, she was able to pointedly call out Hollywood (and the entertainment industry at large) to provide more opportunities for actors of color. Sure, there were some white actresses who complained that good roles needed to be written for all women, but there will always be roles for white actresses. If you continue to have white leads, it’s easy to write a mother/sister/daughter for them, that guess what? Will most likely be white! Even when Hollywood attempts to create multi-racial families like Michael B. Jordan and Kate Mara as adopted siblings in the Fantastic Four, Jordan had to explain how they were siblings in every interview I saw.
This year’s season on Broadway is one of the most diverse seasons in recent memory. With shows like Hamilton, Allegiance, On Your Feet!, and The Color Purple highlighting actors of colors, as well as Spring Awakening bringing deaf actors to the stage, Broadway is representing!
Which is why it’s so nice to see NBC’s annual live theater event to be The Wiz Live!, which featured an all-star cast of black actors who brought it and then some. Despite not casting any of the Broadway stars I had in mind when The Wiz Live! was first announced (here’s looking at you, Joshua Henry, Condola Rashad, and, of course, Audra McDonald), each and every actor brought their A-game and made you wonder why none of them were currently headlining a Broadway musical… yet.
Hollywood take note: Shanice Williams was found during an open call once they decided to cast a newcomer as Dorothy. This is what happens when you decide to cast star power over a big name. You can discover someone special. If only every other show or movie was willing to take a chance on an unknown talent, especially one of color. Here’s hoping this is the first of many occasions where a new actor of color takes the world by storm.
It bothers me when people of color dye their hair blonde, as if black hair isn’t beautiful and to me, it feels like they’re trying to white-wash themselves. So I’m glad they decided to ditch the blonde wig for Uzo Aduba, who slayed and looked absolutely beautiful as Glinda. If only we could all have showstopper moments like her entrance. Her appearance as Glinda was well worth the wait, and yes, I do believe!
I have never seen any live telecast on television get universal love with very little snark. No awards show, sporting event, or previous musical has been met with such love from social media. What white Americans fail to understand is what it’s like to be of color and to not see yourself represented on TV. What you begin to internalize as a child is that your stories don’t matter, and in turn, you don’t matter. The Wiz Live! was an incredible production that not just was executed well, but celebrated the black community. Bravo to all those involved, and a sincere thank you to NBC for choosing a show like The Wiz to broadcast. Out of the hundreds of musicals they could have picked, they produced a show that positively represented all the communities involved. It seems so simple to have a family-friendly program with positive black represention on basic cable television, but it is in fact extraordinary. I know I for one, am very pleased indeed.