‘Passing for white’: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-08-22 00:48Z by Steven

‘Passing for white’: how a taboo film genre is being revived to expose racial privilege

The Guardian
2018-08-20

Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature; School Learning and Teaching Lead
School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
York St John University, York, United Kingdom

SUSAN KOHNER and JUANITA MOORE in Imitation of Life
Crossing the colour line … Susan Kohner and Juanita Moore as daughter and mother in Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959). Photograph: www.ronaldgrantarchive.com

Rebecca Hall’sdirectorial debut is an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing, a theme little seen since the likes of Show Boat and Pinky

Hollywood once loved films about passing. The genre was popular in the 1940s and 50s, when segregation was rife and the “one-drop rule” – which deemed anybody with even a trace of African ancestry to be black – prevailed. Box-office hits included Elia Kazan’s Pinky (1949) and George Sidney’s musical Show Boat (1951), which featured light-skinned, mixed-race characters who passed for white in the hopes of enjoying the privileges whiteness confers. The secrets, the scandal and the sheer sensationalism of it all made for excellent melodrama.

Now Rebecca Hall, the star of Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Red Riding, is revisiting the genre with her directorial debut, an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s seminal 1929 novel Passing. Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga will feature in the project, which tells the story of childhood friends, Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield, who are both light-skinned enough to pass for white but choose to live on opposite sides of the colour line…

…How will Hall negotiate the tricky history of the genre? Even though it was a real-life phenomenon, most films about passing, including Pinky and Show Boat, have literary roots. William Wells Brown’s 1853 anti-slavery novel Clotel, which imagines the fate of Thomas Jefferson’s mixed race progeny, is perhaps the first American passing novel. Brown used passing to expose the arbitrary nature of white privilege. His mixed-race characters were a manifest symbol of the reality that many powerful, supposedly God-fearing white slaveholding men were coercing and raping enslaved black women and condemning their own children to a life in bondage (although, as Beyoncé recently revealed, not all unions were of this nature)…

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Rebecca Hall To Make Directorial Debut With ‘Passing’; Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga Star In Adaptation Of 1920s Novel

Posted in Articles, Arts, Passing, United States, Women on 2018-08-07 03:40Z by Steven

Rebecca Hall To Make Directorial Debut With ‘Passing’; Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga Star In Adaptation Of 1920s Novel

Deadline Hollywood
2018-08-06

Amanda N’Duka

Rebecca Hall Tessa Thompson Ruth Negga
Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: Rebecca Hall has set up Passing, an adaptation based on Nella Larsen’s 1920s Harlem Renaissance novel that explores the practice of racial passing, a term used for a person classified as a member of one racial group who seeks to be accepted by a different racial group. Hall has penned the script and will direct in her feature helming debut, with Westworld star Tessa Thompson and Oscar nominee Ruth Negga attached to star in the film.

Margot Hand of Picture Films and Oren Moverman of Sight Unseen are producing, with Angela Robinson serving as executive producer.

First published in 1929, Passing follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, Clare Kendry (Negga) and Irene Redfield (Thompson), whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities…

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41 Women of Color Get REAL About Beauty and Diversity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-03-22 18:32Z by Steven

41 Women of Color Get REAL About Beauty and Diversity

Allure
2017-03-21

Elizabeth Siegel, Deputy Beauty Director

Lindsy Van Gelder, Writer

Patrick Demarchelier, Photographer


Left, on Dilone: Swimsuit by Alix. Bracelet by Hervé Van Der Straeten. Center, on Aamito Lagum: Swimsuit by Acacia Swimwear. Earrings by Marni. Right, on Imaan Hammam: Swimsuit by Mikoh. Earrings by Loewe.

We smooth it with scrubs. We soften it with creams. We dab it with highlighter. But our skin is so much more than a reflection in the mirror. Our skin is the metaphor that defines how we’re seen — and how we see ourselves. For our April 2017 cover story, Allure asked 41 women of color to tell us the story of their lives through their skin — and skin tone. Because our skin can be both a vulnerability and a defense. But most importantly, it can be a source of celebration…

Meghan Markle, actress, Suits

“I have the most vivid memories of being seven years old and my mom picking me up from my grandmother’s house. There were the three of us, a family tree in an ombré of mocha next to the caramel complexion of my mom and light-skinned, freckled me. I remember the sense of belonging, having nothing to do with the color of my skin. It was only outside the comforts of home that the world began to challenge those ideals. I took an African-American studies class at Northwestern where we explored colorism; it was the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community, too mixed in the white community. For castings, I was labeled ‘ethnically ambiguous.’ Was I Latina? Sephardic? ‘Exotic Caucasian’? Add the freckles to the mix and it created quite the conundrum. To this day, my pet peeve is when my skin tone is changed and my freckles are airbrushed out of a photo shoot. For all my freckle-faced friends out there, I will share with you something my dad told me when I was younger: ‘A face without freckles is a night without stars.’ ”…

Misha Green, cocreator, writer, and producer, Underground

“My skin is a shade darker than caramel, with a speckle of chicken pox scars that I tried to pass off as freckles in middle school. Spending summers in the South growing up, I was always aware of colorism in the black community, but it wasn’t really until I attended an all-white middle school that I encountered it. I remember riding the bus and one of my classmates was turned around in her seat staring at me. I asked why. She wanted to know what I was mixed with. She had never seen such a pretty black girl, so she assumed I must be mixed with something. At the time, I was too offended to answer. But since then, I have been asked what I’m mixed with too many times to count, and each time I am met with skepticism when I reply that I am black. I continue by informing the misinformed — the African diaspora comes in many hues; all of them are beautiful.”…

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Our Diversity Isn’t Looking Very Diverse

Posted in Articles, Arts, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-20 23:29Z by Steven

Our Diversity Isn’t Looking Very Diverse

Affinity Magazine
2016-08-20

Etienne Rodriguez
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Look alive, True Believers, if the rumors are to be believed, then Zendaya is playing the role of Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Spider-Man movie. This is the latest in a series of black women being cast in traditionally white comic book roles. First it was Candice Patton being cast as Iris West in CW’s The Flash, then Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, followed by Kiersey Clemons being cast in Warner Brother’s The Flash, and now Zendaya. While they’re all great actresses and I can’t wait to see them in action, it’s hard not to notice that only a certain type of black girl is being cast.

We all want to celebrate the fact that black women are getting more roles, but we need to address the colorism in these casting. Zendaya, Kiersey, Tessa, and Candice are all lightskin black women. These aren’t coincidences; these are products of our society’s devaluing of darkskin black women, especially those that don’t meet Eurocentric beauty standards. These actresses received/continue to receive a lot of hate, doused in racism no doubt, but nothing in comparison to what Leslie Jones went through just last month.

Leslie is a darkskin black women with Afrocentric features, and the internet sure as hell wanted her to know it. Through comparison to gorillas, various racial slurs, and general bigotry, she was forced to retreat from Twitter and thus interacting with her fans. Women like her are rarely given the chance to shine and when they are, they’re met with harassment and abuse…

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How Tessa Thompson Became A Modern Marvel

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-17 14:01Z by Steven

How Tessa Thompson Became A Modern Marvel

BuzzFeed
2016-07-20

Anita Badejo, Associate Features Editor

At a time when Hollywood is finally developing the kinds of projects for actors of color that had traditionally been out of reach, Tessa Thompson’s ascent to the A-list isn’t just welcome — it’s necessary. How can she embody this pivotal cultural moment without being defined by it?

Tessa Thompson has a problem. “I really like to be good at things,” she says, reclining in a rich brown leather chair in the Library bar of Manhattan’s NoMad Hotel. It’s a Sunday afternoon in March, and Thompson is wearing a sheer black blouse with gold-chained collar pins and high-waisted acid-wash jeans. “It’s an impediment sometimes.”

The idea that the 32-year-old could be impeded by anything seems unlikely. In the past two years, she has been touted as Hollywood’s Next Big Thing based on performances in films such as the indie darling Dear White People, the historical drama Selma, and November’s box office hit Creed, and she has parlayed those successes into at least three potentially life-changing upcoming roles. “To be really bad in the beginning and to risk being bad every time and just continually be compelled to want to be good and better?” she says, her Ts aspirated in the manner of a lifelong performer. “Acting is the only thing I was able to push through that.”

And, as Thompson acknowledges, the roles she’s had a particular knack for so far have tackled complicated issues of race and gender — all befitting the multiracial actress, who peppers her musings with references to everyone from bell hooks to Laurence Olivier. “Whatever alchemy it is, those are the kind of parts that I’m going to be better at.”…

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Keep It Simple at TEDxIndianapolis

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-12-02 02:10Z by Steven

Keep It Simple at TEDxIndianapolis

The Indianapolis Star
2015-10-21

Leslie Bailey

“When asked how he created his masterpiece, Michelangelo said, ‘It was easy. You just chip away that which does not look like David.’ What if our lives are our masterpiece? What if we chipped away all that was unnecessary, all the clutter and the busyness, and focused on that which really mattered — our passions and our relationships.”

This is the “big idea” Maura Malloy will share when she takes the stage at TEDxIndianapolis on Tuesday. Malloy, 36, is among approximately 20 speakers who will present their ideas at the conference with the theme of “Keep It Simple.” Other speakers include a homeless advocate, an origami artist, a musician and a handful of professors…

…In her talk, Malloy will share her journey to a minimalist lifestyle, as well as tools on how everyone can create their own “masterpiece” life. For Malloy, the spark ignited during a semester studying in India during her sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame. She was allowed one 40-pound bag of belongings for the semester. “It opened my eyes to how little you need to be joyful, especially when it comes to children,” said Malloy, who is expecting her first child in November…

…Malloy, who grew up in South Bend, moved to New York City when she was 25 to pursue a career in acting. She ultimately turned to screenwriting, which she continued doing after moving back to Indiana with her husband, Rory Collins, 2012.

She currently has two projects in development with actress Tessa Thompson attached to both films. The first, “An Illuminated Life” [See: An Illuminated Life: Bella da Costa Greene’s Journey from Prejudice to Privilege] is a biopic about Belle da Costa Greene, an African-American woman who lived as a white woman while working as J.P. Morgan’s right-hand woman at the turn of the century. The other project, “Our Rebels,” is a smaller, independent film Malloy describes as a “platonic love story.”…

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Great Character: Sam White (“Dear White People”)

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-03-18 19:36Z by Steven

Great Character: Sam White (“Dear White People”)

Go Into the Story
2015-03-13

Scott Myer

The Great Character theme for the month: Rebel. Today: Sam White from Dear White People (2014), written and directed by Justin Simien.

As a biracial gentleman, it has been blatantly clear to me my entire movie-going existence that my distinct mixed race experience must be just some fairytale figment of my imagination to those shining the greenlight in Hollywood. Characters of multiple ethnicities typically find their stories swept under the dirty rug to give the red carpet treatment to the “more relatable” struggles of the interracial couples that give birth to us instead.

Enter the bold, brave, brilliant voice of Justin Simian, an auteur screenwriter/director of African-American descent and gay sexual orientation, inspired by his own outsider college occurrences. With Simian’s slick, super smart 2014 debut being the racial satire Dear White People, we receive a nuanced black and white female protagonist played by a charismatic actress that has the added layer of understanding stemming from actually being of mixed heritage herself. Heavily armed with a movie camera, a radio mic and a public speaking voice, Sam White, superbly played by Tessa Thompson (Selma), puts a modern spin on black activist Angela Davis reimagined in a bohemian chic Denise Huxtable Lisa Bonet fashion sensibility.

SAM WHITE: Dear white people, the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man, Tyrone, does not count…

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