UPDATE: Read the Washington Post Article on RACE and Performance and how other bloggers feel about Jolie in “A MIghty Heart.”
Meet Angelina Jolie. The Academy Award Winning Actress has a new film out today that’s the buzz of all Hollywood called “A Mighty Heart” the story of Mariane Pearl’s (played by Jolie) quest to find answers about her husband, journalist Daniel Pearl’s kidnap and murder by terrorists in Pakistan.
Jolie–despite her Cambodian and Ethiopian children–is white. Pearl, is black (biracial). Now, some people may see this and saying I’m being essentialist or whatever…blahblahblah…But Halle Berry wasn’t available? Thandie Newton too busy? If I had to think about bi-racial black women to play this role, they’d certainly have been the first two thoughts (I would have leaned toward Thandie Newton for this one in particular.) Despite Berry’s Oscar win, she really doesn’t have the box office draw of Jolie, and neither does Newton (neither of whom can have the power to really “green-light” a project.). Also, apparently Jolie had become friends with Pearl, and hubby Brad Pitt had bought the rights to Pearl’s book of the same name as the film.
What this does remind me of is all those films from the 40’s and 50’s that one of my favorite entertainers, Lena Horne, was up for but they ultimately cast white women in the roles of “mulatto” women. Don’t buy it? Here’s two examples.
1949…Pinky. Lena wanted to play Pinky. Jeanne Crain got the part.
1951…Showboat. Lena wanted to play Julie. The role went to Ava Gardner.
The list goes on.
But that’s white privilege. 1950-2007. Maybe Jolie can beat Whitney Houston or Alicia Keys to the punch, and play Horne in a biopic that’s in the works! (Reportedly Horne wants Houston. Oprah wants Keys. Farrow, also wants Keys.)
(Lena’s 90th birthday is coming soon, to which I’ll give a proper b-day salute. But I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Lena Horne songs, “Yesterday When I was Young.”)