Women of the Lens Film Festival

News : Commentary

News  I  Commentary

Hair & Makeup Win for Ma Rainey

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson won Academy Awards in the 2021 Oscars in the  hair and makeup categories. They make history as they are the first ever Black women to do so.

If you’ve not seen the George C. wolfe directed Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Netflix original, it’s still available to view on the streaming platform.

The adapted production also stars Chadwick Boseman in his final peformance.



Mia Neal Jamika Wilson Oscar Winners
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Netfilx Film Poster

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?

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)

Diverse industry discussions continue

So, the perennial challenge of providing opportunity that creates a more diverse film and media UK industry is mapped out in an article by Screen Daily.
Titled; “…How can the industry develop a more inclusive workforce?…” the piece includes an initiative created to include training courses on BAME hair and make up.
It’s difficult not to reign in our frustrations here. A scratch on the surface of research will show that Black women spend significant amounts on hair and beauty.
The accompanying Black beauty influencers and online make up tutorials reveals a plethora of more than capable candidates to approach as prospective employs in this field of the industry. Granted they may need support in the ways of on-screen techniques, but there should be no shortage of candidates.
Read the full article in the link below.

(image credit: Jess Hurd)

credit JessHurd

Leslie Jones to host MTV Moive & TV Awards

Leslie Jones

(image credit: Getty)

Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters/Coming 2 America) will host the MTV awards on 16th May in Los Angeles. 

Idris Elba as Luther

Idris Elba as ‘Luther’

(image: BBC)

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)

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. 


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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