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Outcry Over 2012 Highest Paid Actresses List’s Lack Of Diversity. Really?

Outcry Over 2012 Highest Paid Actresses List's Lack Of Diversity. Really?

Based on emails I’ve received, and articles I’ve read this week, some of you are apparently taken aback by the fact that the latest Forbes list of the 10 highest paid actresses, released earlier this week, is absent of any black actresses.

And in response to that, I’m shocked that you’re shocked!

Seriously, where the heck have you been? Have you visited a movie theater lately to watch a film? How about in the last 12 months? 24 months? 60 months even? And how often have you found yourself sitting in a movie theater, looking up at the film playing in front of you, and seen the faces of black actresses in leading roles that would command the kind of high salaries the women who did make the Forbes list are receiving?

How many black women STARS are there? Not just black women actors, but STARS? The ones whose names are near-guaranteed box office triumphs.

To complain about the absence of black actresses on this list is silly, and is to ignore decades of discussion on the lack of diversity within the Hollywood machine, and the numerous attempts that many have made (whether by individuals or collectively) to help affect the kind of change that would allow more black actors and actresses the kinds of opportunities and privilege that their Caucasian contemporaries have enjoyed since the medium was invented.

Surely, I hope it didn’t take this 2012 list to make you realize that we have a, you know, problem here (one that’s much older and deeper than this list), and that this is still very much an industry that’s dominated by the images of white men and women.

If anything, I’d instead be taken aback by the fact that Kristen Stewart is at the top of the list this year, thanks to those horrible Twilight movies. Now THAT’s something that should raise your eyebrows; not this.

Let’s first worry about getting our treasured actresses more work; preferably starring roles in high profile projects; or really just more work, starring role or not; high profile project or not.

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It doesn't matter what race an actress is, the fact is whether or not she can act. Kristen Stewart is a horrible actress. The only reason the Twilight Series did well is because the books have a large following. The books are much better than the movies.

None of Kristen's other movies did well, and none of her future movies will do any better. She should use the money for acting classes. Also, she should plan on getting an education.


Faces of black actresses in leading roles you ask? How about: Jada Pinkett Smith; Nia Long; Rosario Dawson; Thandie Newton; Vanessa Williams; Angela Bassett; Raven-Symone; Rihanna; Whoopi Goldberg; Queen Latifah; Halle Berry; Regina King; Taraji P. Henson;
Garcelle Beauvais; Rashida Jones; Sanaa Lathan ; Viola Davis; Paula Patton ; Tracee Ellis ; Lauren London; Meagan Good; Tia Mowry; Tamera Mowry. And, watch any Tyler Perry film. He mostly hires black actors (female and male). I would love to walk through his studio on a busy day and count how many non-black employees he's hired.
So many black people with chips on their shoulders just wanting to complain.
There's a network called "The Black Entertainment Network". Imagine if there was a network called "The White Entertainment Network"?
There are magazines called: "African-American Golfer's Digest"; "Black Bride & Groom Magazine"; "Black Enterprise Magazine"; "Black MBA Magazine"; "Ebony Magazine"; "Essence Magazine"; "American Legacy Magazine"; "Black Men Magazine"; "Blackmen's Swimsuit Extra Magazine"; "Heart and Soul Magazine"; "Jet Magazine"; "Sister 2 Sister Magazine".
Replace all the above with "white" in the title or reference, there'd be outcry of bigotry like never before.
Quit your bitchin' and work hard in this land of amazing opportunity and you will succeed. Only after you knock that chip off your shoulder.


Am black and am African even though I have noticed the lack of black A-list celebs, and I think it is a matter to be concerned with. I do have to agree with “sin” on some matters he/she pointed out I have been to a lot of countries and the most place I get hostility by non-whites was when I lived in America by the same black people who cry out on seems they didn’t like Africans and hate being compared to Africans I was made to fill like a third class person first by the whites then by the blacks themselves, I mean how are we to fight discrimination when we are handing it out ourselves. Also as a race we need to be less selfish yes I know blacks have had it rough from my point of view worse than any other race cause no matter what race you are it all comes down to one point that a black person is the most hated and degraded race in the world that is just a given, but sometimes I do consider people like the red Indian who have no right on their own land but do not make a sound about it. that’s just my view of things.

Kid chaos

Sin shut the fuck up iam soo tried of you fools from south america telling black how they should feel.You fools are just niggers who speak spanish.


My thing is not to offend anyone. That's not my cup of tea. But the most frustrating thing in life and sets many to stand at a stand still, is complaining with no action. The film industry is like any business, it has no color. What it has is the promise to cater to what audience want. If a movie falters, then obviously a lot of people aren't watching it.
Take action is all I'm trying to say. You say race of color don't get enough A list roles in movies. But not enough , take action on this problem. Merely talking about in a blog isn't going to change anything , it's not even scratching the surface.
That's all I'm getting at.
And to be honest to have actors like Denzel, be picked for leading roles, which to me he is definitly up there with your Al Pacinos and Robert D'nioro is honorable. Just like having Obama as president. That list that you are complaining about is of the top 100 of this year. Last year it was Janie fox and Denzel.
Everyone knows in Hollywood one day your up there , and the next day your not. Give a three sixty of the story. There are many things at play when it comes to these industry's. But anyways, goodnight and I hope your blog does shed some light on the percentage that is being hurt by such a thing.


Every where thing I see, read, listen to has african Americans complaining about why they are over looked for everything, by the way I'm Dominican raised in New York City. My thing about these subjects is this. No one owns no one anything anymore. Most black African Americans cry out about the mother land and speak about slavery and the majority haven't even been to , let alone want to go to Africa, don't like Africans and hate being compared to Africans. Two , slavery, very touchy subject, a lot of nationalities experience it, but the ones that talk about it the most and still and act as if they experienced what they ancesters went throught, (speaking about my generation and on) are African Americans. I don't see any other nationality complain, not even native Americans who in reality are the ones who really got the bad end of the stick( not trying to offend). African don't want to admit it, but those that don't see success want to look at others for their lack in making in this world. Now they want to complain about not being nominated in Forbes. I'm going to explain to you why I and maybe others don't like seeing black films. #1, almost all black film portray African Americans ( or people of dark, brown, skin) as gangsters, drug dealers or ignorant as hell. #2, they're ghetto, uneducated or are educated but need to act like they're from the hood. #3, the woman have attitudes, are mad, have no trust in men, the man are cheaters, or they talk about church, wanting or getting saved, non of the things that people really care about. Every movie with all black or African American actors are about the same damn thing just different actors. Hence, it's not Hollywood , it's how races other then white allowed themselves to be portrayed. I go to the movies to be entertained , if u can't do that I'm not going to pay. The actors that do make it as a listers and aren't white do it because they think outside that spectrum, and don't enclose themselves in a box. That's why Zoe was the leading lady in Avatar, it's about going outside the box. Think, having an imagination. This is why I watch vampire movies, conspiracy action movies and so on, it takes me far away from the norm to a different place. This is why I don't go and see Tyler Perry's movies or other movies like it, cuz it's all the same thing. Change it up and I'll invest my money in seeing it.
Don't like the truth, then don't complain, stop allowing African American or other races that aren't white, portray our races as ignorant ghetto fabulous low life people and maybe hollywood will start writting leading roles for us….instead of the " white" which by the way I still don't know who that is because he still hasn't brought me down.


How about native indians and asians actors?


Same ol' story. Seriously blacks should be tired of speaking with about same issues all the time with little actions.


Soooooo….is there really an outcry? I thought the problem (disdain) was that Kristen Stewart was at the top of the list. One gets tired of being the "look at the White females to find the source of your issues" hysteric on the boards. I know I cannot be the only person in or out of the industry who frequents S&A who knows that Hollywood courts White American females who are one of the most aggressive anti-female diversity markets out there which makes creating films for them quite easy. Just make a film where the main character is a White female and accessible (not too "hot" or else that wf audience turns against the "hot" actress). Black women on-screen are fine in the U.S., as long as they make White American females feel better about themselves (are fat, not classically attractive even for her own community, are beaten-down, and are the exclusive conduits for dysfunction). Male, specifically Black male integration is fine as long as White Females continue to be the focus and are, again, accessible (a White female actress who does not make the White female viewing audience feel bad about themselves). Black men have been regularly in the Top 10 paid/grossing actors and they are only 6% of the American population. This really is an issue of GENDER, privilege and narcissism that men and those in power, in Hollywood, KNOW, but rarely say in public… White American females are antagonistic towards the idea of female diversity when it comes to their stars… period (no room on the pedestal…ever). White men aren't putting these Top ten women on the the list… White females are. White females are a real market and without their dollars, you almost don't have a chance, as a Black actress, to make a big name for yourself. It has only been over the last half year or so that the issue is finally being addressed (to much hostility at times) on the small screen. Honestly Tambay, if S&A truly wants to set those who wrote in straight and have a transformative discussion with the S&A audience, I believe this issue should really be addressed openly. As long as the White female viewing audience continues to avoid dissection, we will continue to talk in circles…


Screw Hollyweird. That game is rigged.


I am going to disagree with Tambay on this one. Yes, Tambay you do have a point there is a paucity of A list high profile actresses commanding big bucks.

I do see an opportunity for black women on TELEVISION. I am happy that Meagan Good is the star of a NBC show Infamous and Kerry Washington's got Scandal. Gabrielle Union is getting her own show on BET this fall. So I think black women young and the older actresses realize the film industry is really stacked against them so they turn to television.

However, I think the reason some people are upset is the lack of opportunities for black women in Hollywood STILL! It sucks to be frank that Kerry Washington isn't A list yet. Sure, Zoe Saldana is doing well but she sees herself more as a Latina than as a black woman. So there are still no A list black actresses out there in Hollywood. Jennifer Hudson won the Oscar but what has she done lately? The only thing I can think of is Jennifer appearing in Weight Watchers commercials and that's pathetic!
MoNique won an Oscar a few years back but she hasn't starred in a film since Precious.


This is why the Gabrielle's, Sanaa's, Nia's and the soon to be Kerry's(after Django) and Halle's(after her legal problems with a white man) really got fooled.. Hollywood has a glass ceiling..most people don't know when to "take the money and run". They stick around wanting more and more and more..IF you are black and a woman trying to break into the industry without Juilliard or Yale, chances are you won't be going as far as you would like- heck even if you DID go to those schools you will end up shafted( look at Oscar nominees Angela Bassett and Viola Davis). This isn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings but lets save a lot of girls about 15-20 years of asking "why" and maybe redirect them to careers where they will be truly valued. They will only pick ONE– like they did with Denzel and Halle ( who can't stay out of trouble) and those classic, very articulate and good-looking African American chosen actors will be "representative's" for the race. Hollywood is all about who is f8ckable..I think black beauty is the best beauty but you will have a VERY hard time convincing Hollywood that.


When will people of color understand that UNTIL you are in the white Hollywood mainstream, no matter how many Tyler Perry films, " Think like a man", even Scandal, types of projects you do, they will not even consider you a contender…ever..please don't ask why. you know why. goodnight

Charles Judson

According to labor statistics the median income for the average actor is $17 per hour. That's about $36K IF they work 40 hours a week all 52 weeks of the year. Most actors will never get anywhere near the top 10. Nor do all actors want to even be in the movies or take on the roles that it takes to be in the top 10. SAG-AFTRA represents 150,000 members. If you don't include non-members and aspiring actors, the Forbes list represents .006 percent of the acting community. Not exactly very representative. It's in the day to day reality of being an actor hustling, trying to improve your craft, create quality projects and actually make a decent living to pay the bills is where our collective efforts will count.


Here it is in a nutshell from one of the players:
"Gates said one of the most revealing interviews that he did was with producer Arnon Milchan, founder/head of New Regency Productions who broke down how racism works in Hollywood. Milchan explained how "Panic Room," which made $100 million at the box office, would have made, at most, $50 million with Halle Berry in the Jodie Foster role. He went on to say that with a darker-complexioned actress, "Ten million, maybe $20 million." Gates' questioned Milchan about a Halle Berry-Denzel Washington love story. "Oh man, that is a brilliant idea," Milchan said, "Only one problem, it will only make $50 million." He went on to illustrate that the problem. Since they are both A-list actors, once he pays Halle $20 million and Denzel $20 million, he doesn't have any money left. "The moral of that story is that film will never be made," he said. Gates took it one step further and questioned Milchan about a Halle Berry-Russell Crowe pairing. "$200 million, maybe $300 million," Milchan said, explaining that the audience is not interested in seeing two black people, black man and black woman, make love. And they are definitely not interested in seeing a black woman and her son being terrorized by anybody. "They are not going to pay for that," he said.

The Israeli-born producer of more than 85 feature films (including "The King Of Comedy," "Once Upon A Time In America," "Pretty Woman," "The Negotiator," "Fight Club," "Big Momma's House," "Don't Say A Word," "High Crimes" and "Daredevil"), Milchan added, "It could be there is an assumption that Hollywood is closed to the black community, and the assumption could be wrong. Maybe the club door is closed, but not by conspiracy. Maybe it's by disassociation socially — unless you get into that room, you don't have access. But if we hang out, we talk, and if we talk, we do business."


I saw this coming. Here is the sad thing that no one wants to talk about, for any of you filmmakers out there who have tried to mount a low budget film using all Black talent only to have deep problems in the casting of them from the Agents and Managers, and the so-called stars they think they are, I have had white actresses come froward to want to audition for parts written for a Black actress and offering to work for nothing on the front end, ("just feed me good and I am" there, they tell me) Well we have to work more together and help move projects forward, our actresses have to don producers hats like white actresses will do at a heart beat. we have to look at that sister or brother and offer to help out on the set and help find locations or key crew if needed cause all that swims up stream and then once an actress develops a reputation as being a joy to work with or was there when we all struggled, we can over come that list cause white folk band together to do and producer their shit, look at that white filmmaker Lynn Shelton, as she said she just called up friends who became crew members and hired actors who were friends of other friends who just jumped on board. We have to start out that way and then those actors we helped groom will be one of those high paid on our list, with Hollywood it will always be about racism and skin color, they don't make a move to do anything unless it's about race and color and that permeates their entire being. So what, to hell with them, groom our own make our own. What you don't hear or see or that never gets told is that white actresses are always begging to be in our films. That tells you something. NADINE on this site once made a comment that "we don't work with each other cause we hate each other" that statement sends chills down my spine cause to this day I still can not come back at her and say she is 100% wrong. I hope she's wrong, I pray she's wrong!!!


Why aren't black women more marketable outside of music? Is there room for Beyonce and a Beyonce of music?

Primal example: Porn
A fan thinks their favorite is the best because they are their favorite.
My friend thinks PinkyXXX is a top pornstar because he and many others like her. Forget the fact that she is a midget, she has never won any AVN award, and 19 y/o white girls make more money in porn.

So why do black women have to stand on the podium alone. If we support one we cant support another one. Does it take all of our support to help make Beyonce one of the biggest stars in the world?


Phew! I was about to be deeply concerned for you Tambay if you were the one pondering on this subject matter. The title of this article had me asking, "Really? Really S&A?" I'm glad to see you recognize how silly it is to complain.


Wasn't Whoopi Goldberg back in the day one of the highest paid actresses in the industry? We have really gone backwards but its been happening right in front of our faces…


Black folks talk about this wayy too much, Hollywood doesn't owe black people anything, they made it for the people they made it for, question isn't what THEY are going to do, the question is what are WE going to do. see a young black woman in a lead roll, a small film but a strong lead, trailer



You mean White people with less talent, brains, or looks still manage to be more successful in Hollywood (and in many other careers) than Blacks who are more talented, intelligent, or better looking? That's the natural order of things.


I swear. It kind of makes you just want to say "You know this based on facts, right?" There are bigger problems than not being included on this list. The hard part is not getting on it, it's getting the opportunities to be able to get on it. Trust me a black woman will be on when she gets $35 million. Hence the reason that you should take the outrage elsewhere. This ain't shocking. Should they have added a token black actress that only made $1 million…lol…anyway I'm with you. It's obvious why they aren't on it, people are apparently blind, and we should focus on the work and work towards bigger oppurtinities.


Amen! Well said. Let's spend that knee-jerk reaction energy on creating quality work, cultivating our audiences/communities and on supporting that work when it comes out.

the black police

Oh gosh…

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