Tag Archives: Viola Davis

“Whaa?” Oscars 2012 Highlights, Hair and Heresies [Quotes + Photos]

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This year’s 84th Annual Academy Awards was a strange night indeed. The night was filled with “OMG” moments. Even from the very beginning when Sacha Baron Cohen the actor from the film Borat spills what he said were the ashes of the late Kim Jong-il all over host Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet. “Whaa?” That’s what the entire night was like for me. It all felt very strange.
Starting with,

  • Billy Crystal does blackface at the Oscars…Whaa?
  • Sean Diddy Combs won an Oscar for the documentary film Undefeated…Whaa?
  • Gabby’s hair…Ummm…
  • Octavia Spencer gets a standing ovation for winning Best Supporting Actress…Okaay… It was a great performance, but a standing O?
  • T.J. Martin becomes the first African-American director to win an Academy award for Undefeated and then drops the “F-bomb” during his speech…For real?
  • Meryl Streep wins for Best Actress…Again?

 
Strange happenings indeed.
Even stranger, is the spark of controversy over Billy Crystal’s “colorful” jokes while hosting the Oscars. After Octavia Spencer won her award Crystal says,
“After I saw The Help I just wanted to hug the first black woman I saw, which from Beverly Hills is about a 45 minute drive.”

 
Ummm…
Next, during a comedic segment were the camera pans over to certain celebrities to show what they are thinking, Billy’s statement about what Viola was thinking left you thinking…”Whaa?”
When Viola noticed that the camera was on her, you could tell she braced herself for what was to come. Crystal joked that Viola was thinking,
“I want to thank my agent, I want to thank my writer and director for creating the role of a strong black woman that wasn’t played by Tyler Perry.” [Shakes head in disbelief]
It felt like a low blow at Tyler Perry who seems to get no respect from Hollywood for his film-making. Perry, by the way, took in $16 million Oscar weekend for his new movie “Good Deeds.” The interesting thing about Mr. Crystal’s jokes was that it’s hard to tell if they were mean-spirited or just ill-advised. With this being such a big night for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer and The Help why cast a shadow over that moment by pointing out various elephants in the room. That is, lack of options for roles for strong Black actors (Tyler comment). Or, the fact that “white guilt” is still very prevalent in our society with his joke about wanting to hug a black woman. Or, maybe that was his point to bring dialogue about these issues.
As for Billy Crystal doing blackface, in his defense, theGrio reports,
“…the Davis impression was a bit he made popular back during his days on Saturday Night Live. His exaggerated portrayal of the latter-day Davis (always performed in blackface) was a regular character, and Crystal even once played him alongside Rev. Jesse Jackson when he hosted SNL in 1984.”
Now, let’s talk about Viola Davis who was absolutely stunning in her green dress. I have to say that it seems a little strange that there is more hoopla over Viola Davis’ new natural hair (see post), than over the fact that an African-American won an accolade that no other Black director to date can claim. Not to say that Black hair is not a big issue, because it is. It’s exciting to witness the times changing right before our eyes. (See post on naturalhair predictions for 2012.) Although our girl didn’t win, I can only imagine what a relief it must be for Viola Davis that the Oscars are finally over. She can now get back to her family and focusing on her work. Esperanza Spalding gets an honorable mention for fiercest afro!


On a lighter note…did you guys see Chris Rocks hair?? That unshaped afro was fabulous! He gave us a little bit of “Pookie,” but clean, you know? Here’s a thought, when Chris Rock does racial jokes, it’s artfully funny—Billy Crystal, not so much. Chris Rock was a breath of fresh comedic air as he introduced the award for Best Animated Film.

 
He jokes,
“I hate when people go on TV and tell you how hard it is to do animation … No, UPS is hard work.  I’ve done some animation … It’s the easiest job in the world.  I go in a booth and I go, ‘what’s the line?’  And the guy goes, ‘it’s time to go to the store.’ And I go, ‘it’s time to go to the store!’  [Said in an urban dialect]  … And then they give me a million dollars.”  
He further jokes,

“I love animation because in the world of animation, you can be anything you wanna be. If you’re a fat woman, you can play a skinny princess. If you’re a short, wimpy guy, you can play a tall gladiator. If you’re a white man, you can play an Arabian prince. And if you’re a black man, you can play a donkey or a zebra.”

With that joke alone there’s no question why “#ChrisRockforOscars2013” is trending on Twitter. Of course, (seriously) reports are coming in that Chris Rock has now pissed off the voice animation community with his comments.  Whaa?

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Kelly Rowland has me thinking, “Is it practical for celebrities to wear natural hair? “

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This morning I was reading an Essence Magazine article, Hair Weave Tips and Tricks. The article caught my eye because I saw the beautiful Miss Kelly Rowland rocking her fierce new curly weave. As usual, the age-old  debate was sparked again, wearing weave vs. wearing your own hair in the comment section on Facebook. One commenter said, “How about just grow your own hair. We can do it Black women!” Of course we know that there are many reasons, some even medical why women wear weaves and wigs. And, of course we know that that is probably not the case for the majority of Black women who rock weave. Lastly, we know that not every woman who wears weave is bald. Some actually have really long, healthy hair “underneath.”

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So, the question is, “Is it practical for celebrities to wear natural hair? ” The answer, I think is, yes. One excuse for not wearing your own hair is that constantly frying and dying your hair to create new looks will cause damage. However, there are plenty of protective and low-manipulation styles for natural hair. Another excuse is that celebrities need to look good all the time and have an image to uphold. But what if we change the image?  In my last article about the unveiling of Viola Davis’ natural hair, I wrote that Hollywood would not accept our hair until we accept ourselves. On the red carpet at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood 2012 Luncheon, Viola states, “My husband told me to step into who I am.”  She stated that with her new natural hair, “I feel more powerful everyday.” What if we as African women flip the script? I’ve heard many women say that they are just not into the “natural look,” and that it’s cool sometimes, but not all the time. I can feel that. On the flipside, there are many women who feel that their God-given “natural look” is never acceptable.

As a performer, you put on a custume and go on stage. When the performance is over, you take the costume off. So, when does the weave, the wig, the facade ever come off? When do you ever “step into” who you really are? I was elated when I read an article featuring Raven Symone (I wrote about it here.) where she explained that when she is working, she wears weave, but in her down time, she rocks her natural. I know that it’s hard enough for Black actresses without them having to worry about how their hair will be perceived.  I would dare to say that Black actresses can reclaim their power by embracing their uniqueness.

I really like Kelly’s new hair and I think weaves in general can be very flattering when installed correctly. Weaves and wigs certainly come in handy when you need a styling break or just want to change your look. I too enjoy the occasional quick weave or wig (though, I haven’t worn one in nearly a year). It’s not about condemning those who wear weaves, it’s about helping women to fall in love with their own hair texture. It’s about giving them tools to succeed with natural hair.

Never mind Viola Davis’ new natural hair…she’s got even bigger plans!

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At the 2012 SAG Awards, upon accepting her award for female actor in a leading role, Viola Davis inspired us to “Dream Big and Dream Fierce.” Now, she is inspiring us with her fierce and new, short natural look featured in the LA Times magazine spread! If you didn’t notice that Viola is absolutely stunning before, there is no denying it now. But, wait…did you guys read the LA Times article? Viola Davis is the quintessential renaissance woman. She has risen from the depths of obscurity and small-time roles to a leading lady in mainstream Hollywood. And that is not all she has to offer.

In the LA Times article, Viola expressed that she is not bitter for being overlooked all these years as a Black actress.

Viola states,

“That really is our plight, especially as women of color,” she says. “You can have all the training in the world (says the former Julliard student), come from a respectable background and yet never get that big opportunity that breaks you out—never.”

Viola is a game changer and a true visionary. Instead of wallowing in the bitterness of the past or just basking is the glory of her new-found prestige, the article states,

“Her next target isn’t another lead role. It’s producing, a task she feels she must undertake if she and other black actresses are to get more fulfilling work. Young people need to be mentored to aspire to something fulfilling.”

Viola states,

“I am doing this out of necessity,” she says. “If I am not the instrument of change, I can meander through this business and be the black woman who always has two or three scenes but with fabulous actors around me.”

Way to go, Viola!! Up next is the Academy Awards. I truly do hope to see her new look on the red carpet accentuated by a golden Ocsar!! As for the question of whether or not Hollywood will except natural hair…Hollywood will not except it until we except ourselves.

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