Women of the Lens Film Festival

News : Commentary

News  I  Commentary

Disney Splashes Out With Colour

What with African American, R&B singer Halle Bailey set to play fairytale’s mermaid Ariel, Disney, it seems is going further and is now set to cast a woman of colour to play the iconic Snow White.

Rachel Zegler who’s already cast in a Steven Spielberg adaptation of West Side Story, will be cast in the live-action version of Snow White. 

Disney is going through its back catalogue of animated features to remake them as live-action productions. Snow White is the latest of such adaptations.  

 

 

Rachel Zegler is Snow White

UK actors and the cost

of leaving

UKActor tweet

Ahhh…the perennial challenge for British Black actors; to stay or leave…the UK that is.

Daniel Kaluuya came away with an Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his part in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ in April of this year. The chances that he’d have been offered roles in the UK that would have taken him on a pathway to this climatic event are pretty slim.

What this tweet from @lailatweetzx hints at is that for many Black UK actors, their career trajectory falls short and any effort to propel themselves to fulfilment must include leaving UK shores for, more often than not, the USA. The move many Black UK actors make to then take up roles in Hollywood have become gristle for a few arguments about Brits taking on African American roles that should be for African American actors…so the argument goes.

A lot of this topic ties into an earlier piece of ‘news’ about the BBC’s Miranda Wayland who chastised the television detective series ‘Luther’ for being inauthentic. Wayland, the new ‘diversity’ head-honcho lamented that the character had no ‘roots’ of any kind, he didn’t eat Caribbean food (hmmm…do we know if ‘Luther’ is of Caribbean extraction?), nor did he have any Black friends.

The series creator, Neil Cross admitted that ‘Luther’ was not written as a Black man and that to maintain integrity, Cross couldn’t have written about that part of the character.

Erm…couldn’t Black writers have been hired to do the job? Why didn’t anyone on the ‘Luther’ production think to look at recruiting Black and/or people of colour you know, for authenticity?  

Decisions, decisions. Should they stay or should they go?

Daniel Kaluuya Oscar Winner

Daniel Kaluuya, 2021 winner of the Academy Award for ‘Best Actor In A Supporting Role’

(image credit: @quillemons for Vanity Fair Magazine)

Small Axe Series by

Steve McQueen

Director Steve McQueen’s ability to bring his Small Axe series of films to the BBC screen is no small feat.

The series title can take some credit from legendary reggae artist Bob Marley’s song of the same name. The song’s lyrics tells those in power that it doesn’t matter how big they get little by little, using a small axe and chipping away at iniquity, they can be cut down.

The Small Axe series contains Mangrove, Lovers Rock, Red, White and Blue and Alex Wheatle. They are like little love letters to the first generation of Windrush settlers who, upon finding that they were having a hard time being accepted as British by the establishment and the white population as a whole, found ways to push back at the Mother Country’s inequality in employment, education, the judiciary and housing, to name a few.

It was a time where those children carved out their own sense of style, fashion, music, art and filmmaking. The Lovers Rock genre for example was created in the UK by Windrush children. How special is that?!

A film series reflecting the life of that generation has been a long time coming…on mainstream platforms anyway. Here’s hoping that it sparks more productions – big and not so big, that celebrate a galvanising period in British history.

Small Axe now available on BBC iplayer

(image credit: BBC)

Mawa Theatre Company visions a new kind of Shakespeare

Thy, thee, thou, whence, et. al., as part of historical Shakespearean texts have been difficult for many to connect to as adults, let alone as students in compulsory education.
A group of Black and mixed-raced woman have teamed up to redress the disconnect in theatre and the use of Shakespeare, calling themselves the Mawa Theatre Company. They are the first all Black, all women company to do so.
Created by actors Maisey Bawden, Gabrielle Brooks, Danielle Kassaraté and Jade Samuels, the women want to examine the Bard from a Black woman perspective and will examine the texts to look at race, class, gender from a different angle.

(Gabriel Mokake Photography/Mawa Theatre Company)

MawaTheatreCompany

Lack of opportunity in UK industry laid bare…again

Game of Thrones

(image: Nick Wall/HBO)

Currently starring in the latest of the Fast and the Furious franchise, Nathalie Emmanuel discussed in an Essence Magazine interview her experiences of working in the British film industry.

We probably know Emmanuel best (so far) for starring in one of the most popular television series of all time – HBO’s Game of Thrones. When discussing the perennial topic of a ‘British invasion’ of UK actors in Hollywood, she explains that…

“…The British industry hasn’t always embraced us…so many Black mixed people like myself have come out to America because the opportunities just weren’t here for us. What’s happened is a lot of talent has been lost to the States…”

There have been a number of British Black actors who’ve begun to shine a little in the UK industry, but it’s like they only get to shine just so. Actors, industry professionals want to work, they want to hone their craft, they want opportunities to develop into the best versions of themselves. But still, Black actors struggle moreso than their equivalent counterparts to reach the top of their profession. 

Contraversially, there is a raft of British Black actors leaving UK shores to reach self actualisation – and the latest to reach the dizzying heights of the profession is Daniel Kaluuya who picked up an Oscar this year. 

As the industry ground shifts once again post lockdown…post the Black Lives Matter movement, galvanised potently after the death of George Floyd, it’s gonna be interesting to see how established institutions make good on the black squares they shared all over social media in 2020. 

Idris Elba as Luther

Idris Elba as ‘Luther’

(image: BBC)

One of the reasons this platform exists is to showcase and show off under represented  women who get limited, if any form of exposure. What Nina Simone experienced should not happen again.

Women Of The Lens 

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You don’t have to be a black woman to engage with us. We look forward to linking with you. Whomever you are, you do have to be invested in making changes that repairs the career chances and images of black women. Simples. 

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Our 2020 Festival returns online. We’ll be interviewing industry professionals through Zoom calls. Watch out for the updates on our social media. 

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