Objections from the families of both women aside, I watched about 30 minutes of it, and, I'm sorry folks, I just couldn't continue. There's a Lifetime movie aesthetic that just isn't for me, but clearly it works for some. I don't have the ratings/viewership numbers yet, but Lifetime will likely issue a press release with those details, which we'll share here once we have them.
Instead of me criticizing it, I've just accepted that I'm not in the network's target audience anyway, so its programming likely won't do anything for me, and it's pointless for me to rip it apart. I tuned in because, well, I run a black film blog, so I need to be aware of what others are watching, especially en masse.
One thing I'd say is that, while I give Mary J. Blige props for pushing herself (and also she did produce the film, so she put herself to work, instead of waiting for someone else to do so), I'd like to see her learn and practice the craft of acting more, by maybe taking small but strong, challenging roles here and there, over many years, becoming something of a character actor we could say, building up her cred, and gaining the necessary experience, before she attempts to tackle a role as significant as the one she does in Betty & Coretta, playing opposite the likes of Angela Bassett, who's classically-trained, and has been acting for decades, on stage, TV and Film.
Sure, go after your dream, by all means. I'm not trying to discourage; but it's irksome when talents who become stars in one field, transition to another in which they have little to no experience, and instead of taking their time to learn the craft necessary to succeed in the new field they've transitioned to, they dive right into these weighty jobs that they really have no business taking on… at least, not as soon as they often do.
It's obviously not a blanket rule. There might be some who just have raw talent, and step right into almost any scenario or field, and impress. But I'd say those folks are in the minority.
I'm a filmmaker and writer, and if I wanted to become an actor, I wouldn't go audition to play Malcolm X tomorrow. Or even next year, or the year after that. Even I know my limits. I'd want to be respected by my peers, and taken seriously, especially by those whose work I respect. So I'd take my time, honoring the craft, really working on perfecting my abilities, in small but interesting roles that challenge me, on stage, on TV, and film. I might even do some small, independent regional play. I'd work to hone my skills, and spend whatever time I feel is necessary to put me on track to becoming great at what I do, and over time, take on larger and larger roles.
But that's just me…
Remember, she also was previously attached to play Nina Simone – a role that now belongs to Zoe Saldana. So clearly, she's shooting for the stars, as they say, with Nina Simone and now Betty Shabazz. Who is she going to play next?
So anyway, I'd like to read what those of you who did Betty & Coretta over the weekend, and who maybe have a more objective, balanced take on it, feel about what you saw – what you liked, what you didn't like, etc.
So dig in…