Before Lupita Nyong’o, there was Emayazty Corinealdi; before Emayatzy Corinealdi, there was Octavia Spencer; before Octavia Spencer, there was Adepero Oduye; before Adepero Oduye, there was… and so on.
Not that I’m comparing these lovely actresses, but my intent is to simply highlight the fact that, on a near annual basis, especially in recent years (and maybe even if one goes back further, when Jennifer Hudson won her Oscar for “Dreamgirls”), that there seems to have always been an annual highlight of black actresses (usually 1 per year) who receive lots of acclaim and attention for what we could deem breakthrough roles, and promises of possibly grand Hollywood acting careers that rarely ever fully materialize.
Don’t get me wrong – each of these actresses is working. They may not necessarily be starring in the next high-profile studio drama, comedy, thriller, or even action movie; but, they’ve managed to sustain themselves, with a combination of big screen, small screen, commercials, and stage work. Others have lucrative advertising contracts with companies looking for brand spokes-people.
While on the outside, it may appear that some are seemingly more in-demand than others, I can’t claim to know any of them personally, enough to comment on what their own aspirations are, and how content they may be with where their careers have led them.
And I’m sure, by this time next year, or the year after, there’ll be yet another black actress who will seemingly capture American’s attention, again, with promises of grand things to come, and, of course, we’ll be talking about whomever that unknown actress is, when the time comes.
All that to say, I really loved this recently released 18-minute revelation starring Adepero Oduye in an online series of conversations with personalities of the African Diaspora, titled “Indigo Tongues,” produced by Iyalode Productions. In it, she talks candidly about her identity, her career, inspirations, challenges for black actresses, and more. It’s an engaging *soliloquy* if you will – a spotlight on an actress in a way we rarely get to see.