Category Archives: actresses

Women of the World: Six Great Performances by Non American Actresses

 

As part of the celebration of  International Women Day and Women’s History month, I wanted to highlight some non-American actresses whose work I admire.  Here are a few of my faves, as discussed on Cinema in Noir.

Kajol as “Maya” in We Are Family

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 We Are Family is the Hindi film version of the film Stepmom.  Kajol gives an emotionally charged performance as a woman coming to grips the knowledge that her life is ending.

 

 Aishwarya Rai as “Lalita” in Bride and Prejudice

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I love a good musical and Bride and Prejudice does not disappoint.  Aishwarya gives a dazzling performance in this adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

 

 Sky Nicole Grey as “Trini” in Restless City

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The multi-hyphenate Sky (actress, model, singer) caught my attention with her role as Trini in Restless City. Sky takes the proverbial “hooker with a heart of gold” role and elevates it with a performance that is subtle, yet powerful.

 

Samantha Barks as “Eponine” in Les Miserables

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A native of The Isle of Man, Samantha gave an amazing and underrated performance in the 2012 blockbuster musical, Les Miserables.  Her performance of “On My Own” was heartbreaking and breath taking all at the same time.

 

Sophie Okonedo as  “Sandra” in Skin

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Born in London, Sophie first gained attention for her role in Hotel Rwanda.  But for me, her powerful performance as Sandra, a woman defined solely by the color of her Skin  is where she truly shines as a major talent.

 

Stephanie Sigman as “Laura” in Miss Bala

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This Mexican beauty gives a masterful performance in her first major feature film role as a young woman forced to be a drug mule. Stephanie is captivating in the role.

 

Who are some of your favorite non-American actresses?

Do You Remember Marki Bey?

Marki Bey is on of the most underrated stars of the 1970s.

Yesterday while searching for a movie to watch on Netflix, I came across the 1970 film, The Landlord.  The film stars Beau Bridges as Elgar, a trust fund kid who buys himself a tenement building in Park Slope, Brooklyn with plans of moving out all the tenants and remodeling the building. However he soon grows fond of the residents and finds himself romancing two women in the process.  The supporting cast includes Joyce Enders as Elgar’s mother, the incomparable Diana Sands as Fanny and Lou Gossett Jr. as her husband Copee.  In an ineffable performance, Pearl Bailey plays Marge, the colorful resident that befriends Elgar and acclimates him to the building (after pulling a gun on him in their first encounter). The cast is rounded out by Marki Bey.

The Landlord, is significant not only for being one of the earliest films about gentrification, but it also marked the film debut of Marki Bey who played Lanie, the biracial dancer who becomes involved with Elgar. Marki Bey gave an impressive debut performance.  She went on to star in two other films before getting her biggest break in 1974.

Marki Bey’s most memorable role came in 1974’s Blaxploitation/Zombie flick Sugar Hill. She played the lead role as Diana “Sugar” Hill, a woman who avenges the death of her boyfriend at the hands of some gangsters by enlisting the help of a voodoo priestess who creates a zombie mob to to do her bidding.  Okay, I know it sounds crazy, but it was the 1970s and the movie is actually entertaining.

Sugar Hill costars Robert Quarry, Don Pedro Colley, Richard Lawson and Zara Cully as Mama Maitresse.Check out the trailer:

After Sugar Hill, Marki Bey went on to costar in the movie Hangup (aka Super Dude) and a series of television spots, including a recurring role on the show Starsky and Hutch as Officer Minnie Kaplan. I found a clip from the series on Youtube:

Marki Bey never achieved the level of success of many of her contemporaries.  She was once quoted as saying: “These days I’m too light to be cast as black and I’m too dark to be cast as white and I’ll be darned if I’m going out and buy one of those Afro wigs. When I auditioned for ‘Purlie’ they said I was too light. People will hire you today if you look like you just stepped off a slave ship, but my family’s just been here too long for that.” By the end of the 1970’s, Marki Bey had left the acting world. Her last role was a guest spot on Trapper John, MD in 1979.  Marki Bey made a rare public appearance in 2008 at  a NYC screening of The Landlord presented by John Singleton as part of the AFI Series.

Although her acting career spanned for less than a decade, Marki Bey’s performances are memorable and solidify her spot in cinematic history.

 

 

Essence Celebrates Black Women in Hollywood

As Hollywood was gearing up for it’s biggest celebration of the year, the 80th Annual Academy Awards,® Essence Magazine paid tribute to it’s own at the First Annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon.

Reel Sista Jada Pinket Smith was honored.

Hubby Will Smith was on hand to present.

 

Ruby Dee was also honored. This is definitely a great year for Sista Dee.


Ruby mingled with Will Smith and Kerry Washington

Other Reel sistas came out to celebrate:

Vivica was there
She hung out with young reel sista Raven Symone.
Tracey Edmonds was there as well.
Salli Richardson looked radiant in red.
Denzel’s wife Pauletta was there for the celebration.
Paula Patton came through and laughed it up with Will Smith.
Lisa Raye
Latanya Richardson
Kerry Washington
Ruby hung out with Ja’Net DuBois, Della Reese and others
Jada and Kerry

Suzanne De Passe and honoree Jada
Garcelle was gorgeous in green.
And Gabrielle Union was there too.
It’s great that Essence is giving reel sistas the love they deserve. Congrats to Jada and Ruby!

Pre-Oscar Parties!

The Oscar partying started earlier this week. Reel sistas were spotted out and about at several Pre-Oscar parties.

First was the “Wear Black, Give Back” party. In attendance were reel sistas Tamara Mowry, Garcelle BeauvaisNilon and Diana’s daughter Chudney Ross.


At the Black Enterprise Magazine Pre-Oscar party, Ruby Dee was on hand to accept an award.

Taraji Henson was there.

Melinda Williams and her man D-Nice were there as well.


So were pals Lisa Raye and Star Jones.

And young Hollywood starlets Kyla Pratt and Jennifer Freeman

At the Annual Ebony Magazine Party, Ruby Dee was honored.

Salli Richardson was there with hubby Dondre Whitfield

Reel sistas Lisa Raye and Holly Robinson-Peete were there as well

Everyone looked ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!!!

Extra, Extra: The 14th Annual SAG Awards

The 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards went down last night. The SAG and the Writer’s Guild of America were able to come to an agreement allowing the show to go on. From the beginning, SAG has been supportinve of the WGA, refusing to cross the picket line, leading to the cancellation of the Golden Globes ceremony earlier this month. That the the SAG Awards the first major award show of the season.

Congrats to screen legend Ruby Dee. Just days after receivving her first Oscar nomination, she takes home the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in American Gangster.

Simply classy.

Before the show, several reel sistas hit the red carpet:

Vanessa Williams was there She looked amazing as usual
Tichina rocked the bob
This was a very good look for her
Taraji looks stunning
Chandra Wilson was dazzling in gold

Keep shining!

Jada in “The Women”

The first pics of Jada Pinkett’s latest film “The Women” have been released.
The film is being directed by Diane English. The cast includes some of the best of Hollywood including Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Bette Midler, Candice Bergen and Cloris Leachman. The film is a remake of George Cukor’s 1939 film which was based on the 1936 play by Clare Boothe Luce. “The Women” is scheduled to be released in October.

Lights, Camera, ACTION! reelsistas.com is LIVE!

Welcome to reelsistas.com.

This blog is my tribute to the sistas of cinema who constantly do their thing in front of and behind the silver screen. I absolutely love movies, more specifically black movies. I am fascinated by story of black Hollywood and its formation. I am a fanatic when it comes to black celebrity and can spend hours at Barnes and Nobles or Borders scouring the pages of Essence, Ebony, Jet, Jewel, and Sister 2 Sister for information about the lives of my favorite black stars. I watch Entertainment Tonight, E! and search countless blogs and websites for every tidbit of information that I can gather.

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I am also a womanist and scholar intrigued by the portrayals of black women in American society. I have studied the images that the media would have us believe reflect what it is to be a black woman in America. Recently, while perusing the biography section of Barnes and Nobles, I realized that of the 772 titles, only 17 were about black women (that comes out to be less that 3%). So I got to thinking about the countless black women whose stories weren’t reflected on that shelf. I thought about the politicians, the activists, the teachers and singer. Then, I thought about all the sistas I had seen through the years on film and on television. These were the women I had searched high and low for information about. However, for some reasons (several which will be discussed in this blog) these women do not get the media attention and respect that they deserve. Did none of these women have stories of value?

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So fueled by my desire to tell the stories of my sistas coupled with my insatiable appetite for entertainment news and pop culture, reelsistas.com is born.

My decision to launch reelsistas.com on Labor Day is not accidental. Labor Day is one of the few national holidays dedicated to all people. The holiday is devoted to no man or group, to no sect, nor race. Today, the world celebrates the millions of people who work everyday to make their community a better place. Today, I celebrate the reel sistas who work everyday to create a better media image of black women. This blog is designed to honor and acknowledge the strength and esprit de corps of the circle of the black women who have worked and continue to work to change the face of sistas in cinema.

Being black and a woman in an industry and country that is both racist and sexist is no easy feat. Often times the industry and the media try to pit sistas against each other or herald one above the rest. One of my favorite reel sistas, Gabrielle Union, said it best when she said “I think about Halle [Berry] and [Queen] Latifah, and they are the only two black actresses that work consistently. It scares me.”

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Black actresses have to fight for a handful of good roles and only a few more not-so good roles. Additionally more and more other ethnic types are taking the roles as the girlfriend of the brother or the best friend. Black actresses have to battle more and more for fewer and fewer roles. Behind the lens, the state of black women is not much better. Black women screenwriters, directors and producers are few and far between.

Throughout the history of filmmaking in America, black women have contributed significantly to the world of film. In fact, it was a black woman, Madame Sul-Te-Wan, who gave birth to what would become Black Hollywood. Desperate to make a living to provide for her family, Madame introduced herself to famed director D.W. Griffith and a long-standing working relationship and friendship was forged. This same perseverance and desire to entertain has been the motivating force behind the journeys of many black actresses. So, in the words of writer Pearl Cleage, I speak the names of those legends who have paved the way for all reel sistas. This is for Madame Sul-Te-Wan, Hattie McDaniel, and Fredi Washington.

reelsistas.com seeks to bridge the gap between the reel sistas and the real sistas who want to see themselves, their mothers, their sisters, their daughters and their friends reflected on the big screen. This blog is a celebration of all that it means to be a black woman in film. This site will highlight women of color both in front of and behind the lens. It will spotlight the stars of yesterday, today and tomorrow. This blog will also shed a light on the black actresses, directors, producers and screenwriters whose names you may not know; women who are slowly, but surely changing the face of Hollywood. This blog will feature movie reviews and commentaries on the classic and contemporary films that star reel sistas. This blog will be a premiere source of information and entertainment.

So welcome and I look forward to your comments as I travel on this journey.