Someone Please Give These People A Job

A series featuring my favorite underemployed blacktors and blacktresses.

I’m not going to admit that I came up with the term “blacktors and blacktresses.” Anyone who closely watched “In Living Color” back in the ’90s would recall a David Alan Grier skit where he played the host of a black awards show that was basically an exaggerated version of the Soul Train Awards mixed with the NAACP Image Awards, only it gave awards for best scared black man in a police show and Whoopi Goldberg was nominated a ton of times as she seemed to be the only black woman getting steady work in the ’90s.

Which brings me to my point. I am a lover of film and television. I own an insane amount of movies from the eclectic and high brow (Julie Taymor’s “Titus” and the film version of “Marat/Sade”) to mob movies (“Goodfellas,” my personal greatest film of all time) to sci-fi (All three “Terminator” flicks, “RoboCop” and “Starship Troopers” and I’m a “Trekkie”). So I get frustrated that there are so few quality films with black people in them and the few there are always either triumph over racial adversity flicks or the most depressing films ever. (Don’t get me started on why I try to avoid watching “Glory,” it always suckers me and I end crying through the whole damn thing EVERY TIME!)

So this is my occasional shout to Hollywood to give a favorite sporadically employed actor something decent to do other than making extra scratch doing plays and teaching at The Learning Annex or maybe managing a Barnes & Noble.

Please Hollywood, give these people a job. (Or a better one than they have now.)

Aisha Tyler

Current Job: She played “Jane” in the 2008 indie film “Meet Market” and is playing Casey Spandeau in “Black Water Transit,” a big budget crime/drama pick also starring Laurence Fishbourne, Evan Ross, Stephen Dorff and Brittany Snow. It is currently in post-production for a 2008 release.

Claim to fame: Her wicked standup comedy, her Dartmouth degree, E!’s “Talk Soup” and her one-off as the first recurring black character on “Friends” in the show’s final season.

Why she should be more famous than she is: She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s tall, she’s pretty. Really? What’s the problem here? Does Hollywood have something against tall, beautiful black women? And what was up with that stint on “The Ghost Whisperer?” I was glad she was getting a steady check, but then, boom, her character is axed. (Possibly as part of that black actor Holocaust that started pre-writer’s strike with Isaiah Washington’s foot-in-mouth moment of hubris and is still going, claiming the jobs of Jesse L. Martin and Gary Dourdan … although Gary might have been high at the time.)*

If … wait, not if but … WHEN they make Barack Obama the Movie Aisha should be somewhere at the top in the running to play Michelle Obama. Right there with other super tall under utilized black actresses like Gina Torres. While I think Gina’s the better actress, Aisha actually looks a little bit like Michelle. Or like Michelle’s super hot cousin once removed. Either way. Michelle has great comic timing and frank, cool attitude. Aisha was born cool.

Other things I’d gladly take Aisha on: Any cop procedural show, “Grey’s Anatomy” (You own me another hot black doctor, male or female, Shonda!), or her own show on a viable network. Not some backwater burg like the CW. I’d also like to see her a big budget Will Smith production. Aisha looks like she was made for a summer blockbuster action/comedy. I’m talking to you, Mr. Smith! Hook-a-smart-funny-sista up!

Or something where she stars opposite Jamie Foxx, but nothing with Eddie Murphy. Poor Gabrielle Union. Did anyone go see her in “Meet Dave?”

That said, make this happen, Hollywood!

*Down thread someone mentioned that Aisha left “Ghost Whisperer” of her own volition, which is, like, cool with me because the show was gawd awful. I was also informed that she’s been on “24,” which, alas, I did not know because I didn’t start watching “24” until season three or four.

19 thoughts on “Someone Please Give These People A Job

  1. Black film will forever be in a conundrum. Every now and then a great black film will be made; only to leave us craving to see ourselves on the silver screen.There’s way to much pretty gurl typecasting; and not enough acting chops; particularly with today’s black actresses. Plenty Wall of Sexy; but lacking in substance. A pretty face is a dime a dozen; hence your unemployed blacktors and blacktresses.

  2. this is so sad. Alesha is so talented and beautiful to boot. Thats why I get upset with the Will Smith’s of the industry because they are powerful and popular enough to make positive changes in the industry but for whatever reason they don’t or the are very slow moving with it….SMH

  3. What we need are high-ranking and high paid blacktors/tresses and business people to get togetha to create an endowment to tell our stories. More than likely these stories will have critical acclaim, but they’ll disappoint at the box office.But that’s the conundrum. We’ll have the Oprah’s and Spike Lee’s of the world to make “Get on the Bus, ” The Great Debators” “Antoine Fisher” and other non-Tyler Perry film; black audiences won’t support it in droves. Making films are about having a profitable return. And investors-black and white alike- don’t wanna throw their money away cause its got to hurt the soul and ego to lose big on time and money invested. There’s a reason why its called “greenlighting” a film.If you want work you better find Tyler Perry STAT! Cause he’s hiring all the out of work blactors and blacktresses he can find. The issue is that his films address a limited scope of dynamic black culture.

  4. get togetha: But that’s the problem with ALL actresses. Most of them are pretty but only a rare few are talented. My point, it doesn’t stop the marginal but pretty white girls from getting work. Does anyone actually think Kiera Knightly is a good actress? Or Kate Bosworth? Or Jessica Biel or Jessica Alba? Katie Holmes? No! They’re just good looking. And yet they remain employed. All I’m saying is … have some parity among the pretty black girls and the pretty white (and not quite white) women. Everyone can’t be Angela Bassett just like everyone can’t be Merle Streep, yet Hollywood executives still waste money on Jennifer Aniston vehicles.We can play the hot girlfriend in peril too. Let us fall off a roof and have Batman catch us once in awhile. Sheesh. Eva Mendes at least got to be Ghost Rider’s love interest and N’Bushe Wright in the original Blade, but besides that, a black chick just can’t get romanced or rescued in this town.vixen: I don’t get that about Smith either (or Oprah for that matter and crappy BET founder Robert Johnson). Smith is the biggest star in Hollywood now that Tom Cruise has completely fallen off the wagon, yet … crickets. And he could produce small, independent films. They don’t have to be mega blockbusters. Black people are starving for anything. Why else would they be flocking to Tyler Perry features? It’s just nice to look at “yourself” on the big screen. And I’m sure directors like the Hughes Brothers, Spike Lee, Antoine Faqua, Kasi Lemmons and even Denzel wouldn’t turn away the funds for the vanity projects they can’t get off the ground because they want to cast a whole bunch of black folks.

  5. get togetha: Ah. I see you made my secondary point while I was still working on my response. Yes. I agree. I don’t know why no alternative structure has been created now that we have some insanely rich black entertainers wandering around.

  6. I am so glad that I’m not the only one who owns/loves Titus! And yes, give Aisha a job. Maybe we should start a fundraiser…k.a.t.calvinwww.bapworld.com

  7. I’m with you on Ms. Tyler, but she was awful in Death Sentence. Miscast!!!!! Gabby Union needs to stop whining about black gossip bloggers and start picking better scripts. I would love to see The Kindred made into a movie. And a black version of The Thomas Crown Affair or The Grifters. I love Into The Wild, do black folks EVER have adventures? And I would love to see a GOOD black horror movie. I completely feel you on Titus! Black people could figure out the world if they watch it. The Black moor is AMAZING! Just tearing white folks up! And grinning about it.And what the hell has happened to Regina King since Ray and Kerry Washington since The King of Scotland?

  8. k.a.t.calvin and prof. tracey: “Titus” blew my mind the first time I saw it. Not only was it a visual feat the acting was amazing and Harry J. Lennox’s performance as the Moor was AMAZING. I mean, he devoured that movie in that role. He was beautiful and dignified and treacherous. I couldn’t believe Shakespeare wrote that, the Moor seemed so contemporary. But I guess human nature hasn’t changed since Elizabethean England and now.

  9. It’s true. I studied Shakespeare a lot in undergrad (I was a theatre major) and he captured the still-relevant feelings of the time so well. His portrayal of Othello as a Moor and society’s reactions to him marrying a white woman (Desdemona) and the insecurity and jealousy that eventually brought him to his death is stunningly accurate. And of course, Julie Taymor is an incredible director, she’s done some absolutely phenomenal things on stage and screen. Titus should be required reading right up there with Native Son and Invisible Man.

  10. How does Jennifer Aniston keep getting work!?For real, I mean I only watched Derailed for Clive Owen, but still..Aisha Tyler is holdin it down for the tall skinny girls with no booty. I adore her and wish she in more movies. She’s pretty damn funny, which I hate that Black women don’t get to be.

  11. Love Aisha and remember her from her Talk Soup days. She was also David Arquette’s girlfriend in the flick w/crackhead DMX and the smolderingly sexy Michael Ealy.It was based on a Donald Goines book and I forget the name because it was all kinds of disastrous.

  12. Let’s not forget her stint on “24”, the most awesome show like..ever. LOL. I love Aisha and yes, she needs work. She’s insanely funny and could at least be lead in some of these romantic comedies Hollywood spits out. Wouldn’t mind seeing her in an Apatow film or alongside Jack Black or Will Ferrell. Those directors/actors have no problem casting black male comedians/comedic actors in their films…they should make room for funny sistas like Aisha!

  13. Harry J. Lennox’s performance as the Moor was AMAZING. I mean, he devoured that movie in that role. He was beautiful and dignified and treacherous. I couldn’t believe Shakespeare wrote that, the Moor seemed so contemporary. But I guess human nature hasn’t changed since Elizabethean England and now.Shakespeare liked inserting moors hither and thither in his works. Another famous one? “Othello”, but I must say that I too enjoyed Lennox’s portrayal in the film. He is definitely one of our many underrated black male actors.

  14. I’m glad someone else has noticed that there is no Hot Black Chick (HBC) on Grey’s Anatomy. I give Ms. Rimes credit…if I were the producer, I would live vicariously through said (HBC).

  15. Maybe I’m just crazy but what do you say about black actresses like Garcelle Beauvis( I know I spelled her name wrong) and Stacey Dash who posed for playboy when they weren’t getting acting gigs anymore? Also I do like Aisha and wish she would get more acting roles.

  16. Somebody else mentioned it Snob, but Aisha was on 24 playing a double-crossing treacherous biyatch. I’ll never forgive Joel Surnow for killing off Curtis! You know Black people are 1/3 of the entire US movie audience. It’s time for us to start pulling rank! And since Will can’t even get a job for his wife, everybody else is effed up. I will go see Jada and Eva in the Women. And yes Titus was da bomb. All of Julie Taymor’s work is exceptional. You won’t see her going the teen comedy route. I was also reading Alisa Valdez Rodriquez’s blog about her problems getting a movie adaptation of her first novel greenlit. She mentioned that all the Latina actresses that were approached were advised against playing Latina characters. It’s ridiculous. It has nothing to do with whether the movie would make money either because even the ones that did were not capitalized on. It’s racism and the continued hierarchy. Look at who’s running the studios and the entertainment divisions of the networks and you will see who’s holding all the cards, keeping them close and parsing out to a few friends. I’d love to see a movie version of the Vampire Huntress Series by L.A. Banks. It would have to be a $150M movie to get all the proper visual effects and the leads are all PoC. I know better than to hold my breath. We have to do it ourselves.

  17. sigh, I work in the biz and it’s frustrating as hell.I think Aisha is very funny and drop dead gorgeous. she and gary dourdan read for a movie the company i was working for was producing. The two of them in a room? Very hot. ha. unfortunately the movie was never made as only two black actresses matter in hollywood Halle and Halle. Bob Johnson has the “studio” Our Stories. First movie up that he and Tracey Edmonds greenlit was “Whose Your Caddy” written by a white guy. Their mandate is comedies. So I don’t think we will be saying anything like “Titus” (which I loved) out of them anytime soon. I worked at 40 Acres when we produced “Love and Basketball” and the “Best Man” it seemed like things were getting better what the heck happened?

  18. Where are they, NOW????Sitcom EditionSandra: The Cosby Show!Kim: Different WorldAunt Viv 1& 2: The Fresh Prince of Bel AirMax:Living SingleEntireCast of Hanging With Mr. Cooper minus Raven SymoneThe Entire Cast of Girlfriends!!!The Entire Cast of Smart GuyJC: New York UndercoverOverton: Living SingleCole: MartinSteve: Family MattersRon: Different Worldto be continued…

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