Yet Another All White Actress Roundtable

Each year, the hard work of actors is seemingly recognised during award season, and each year I am saddened at the lack of PoC actors nominated for these awards, let alone those who win one. One of the promotional stunts involved in the lead up to the Oscars, is the annual The Hollywood Reporter (THR) Roundtable, and this years compilation of actresses was as white as ever. The all-white collation included top actresses: Cate Blanchett, Jane Fonda, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Helen Mirren, Carey Mulligan, Charlotte Rampling and Kate Winslet. Perhaps further unsettling is the fact that many of these women are self-identifying feminists who should be aware of the intersectionality of feminism, and use this opportunity to bring this topic to the forefront of discussion rather than idly participating in the perpetuating of an all white Hollywood. There is no denying that these are accomplished and brilliant actresses deserving of recognition, but the picture below reveals the disturbing reality of a racialised Hollywood:

(Photo credits: The Hollywood Reporter)

In what can be seen as a preemptive strike, alongside their big reveal of the Roundtable, THR published an article attempting to defend their all white cover. In the article, Executive Features Editor Stephen Galloway deflects the blame, stating “So who’s responsible? The Academy drew flak for failing to nominate Selma… but the Academy doesn’t make films, any more than The Hollywood Reporters does: It recognises work that the industry creates". But although THR may not cast the films, editorial decisions like who to put on their Roundtable certainly play a huge role in who the Academy nominates, given the influence that publicity and media attention can have.

The Roundtable issue of THR addressed pertinent issues like the gender wage gap, but this was a discussion which actresses of colour were again excluded from. Galloway does touch on a deeper issue here as he states that “The awful truth is there are no minority actresses in genuine contention for an Oscar this year”, but this year is not an exception - it is almost 2016 and Halle Berry is still the only woman of colour to win an Oscar. Galloway’s comments do open up space to continue a pre-existing discussion on opportunity for women of colour. Viola Davis’s Emmy speech succinctly articulated this prevalent issue of representation when she said that “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there". This all-white THR Roundtable clearly illustrates the vicious cycle: awards cannot be won by actresses who are not recognised, and actresses cannot be reocgnised for playing roles which do not exist in the first place.