Vanity Fair‘s annual Hollywood Issue has always been a reliable barometer of the stardom industry’s fickle moods. In previous years, the magazine has reflected Hollywood’s preoccupations with youth, nudity, and stupid outfits. Above all, it’s faithfully chronicled the studios’ obsession with white hegemony. Several of Vanity Fair‘s Hollywood Issue covers have been paler than a Viking village; others simply included a token actor of actress of color but shoved them off the sides.
How wonderfully refreshing, then, to see so many actors and actresses of color not just feted but also represented on the cover. (Click here for the full spread.) And for those keeping count at home, the group is divided equally among men and women, black and white actors. Would I have loved to see Latino and Asian actors as well? Sure. But we should acknowledge this was a breakthrough year for Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Michael B. Jordan. Nyong’o in particular looks luminous — and as statuesque as the Oscar trophy I hope she’ll take home next month.
We could quibble that Julia Roberts is sitting on Idris Elba’s lap, which sexualizes her in a way her cover-mates are not. But it’s also great to see a beaming over-40 actress portrayed as the sexiest woman in the room.
Will this Vanity Fair cover change anything for actors of color? Doubtful. But at least it offers a vision of a more vibrant and more representative Hollywood of the future than the musty John Singer Sargeant-like portraits we’ve been exposed to thus far.