Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, Nia Long, Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan, Raven Symone, Thandie Newton, and Regina King are probably some of the most recognizable Black actresses in Hollywood. While, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx, Forrest Whitaker, and Don Cheadle are on the list of highest paid Black actors.
What I learned from attending the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is that Hollywood is not really out to discover new stars. It’s all about making money. The sooner we understand that fact, the better we’ll understand “the game”. When actors, films are rated by the color or race of the leading man, we need to better understand the game. The leading man has to be a box office hit. He must produce for the film’s investors. That translates to: if you love those actors you see on the big screen, you must support their movies. Go see the movie, buy a ticket and encourage a friend to do the same, to help make it a box office hit. The first two weeks are the most critical for any movie to send the message to Hollywood that their investment will show a return.
But what happens to the rest of the hundreds and thousands of actors and filmmakers who are not in the Hollywood circle? They do get parts in some great Hollywood movies, and some not so great, but they keep working. For proper growth, and a sense of accomplishment, there must be a platform where the artists feel appreciated, valued, and wanted. This is why Jeff Friday and his partners created ABFF–to give those lesser known amazing talents an opportunity to shine and to be appreciated for their hard work. It is a platform for stories written for a “Black Audience”, which Hollywood neglects to tell–movies that include the plight of the community, praise the greatness of a culture, the contributions that we have made to society. ABFF features movies that show the humanity, the love, the power, the challenges, the defeat and the triumph of a people. ABFF wants to be the answer to those great, unspoken heroes and storytellers.
For 16 years, ABFF has prided itself on building that platform to keep these artists in the game of entertainment. And now it wants to build a bridge that will highlight and ask Hollywood to support the undiscovered greats.
Like ABFF, BLACK STREET was created to give a platform to those in the Black Community. To give a voice to, and reward those who make valuable contributions to their culture.
For those reasons, BLACK STREET is proud to be a supporter of ABFF and its endeavors to support and honor the trailblazers who came before us, and help leave a legacy of greatness for those who will come after.
Written by: Myrdith Leon-McCormmack
Photography Credit: Prescott McDonald @ MLM Represents