Aaron Smith | Opinion Columnist
Acting ability is measured by how well an actor portrays a character and evokes the right emotions for audiences. It is measured by whether or not the actor gives a believable performance on screen – or so the media wants you to think.
In movies, actors and actresses are given more controversial roles because the world is becoming more controversial and brutal; the portrayal of topics that deal with society’s problems should reflect the controversy behind the topics covered. Despite this, there has been a lack of roles for actors and actresses of color in today’s media that causes these individuals to stretch their talent beyond the stereotypes.
Over the years, however, media outlets have opened more doors to racially diverse casts.
More and more African-American focused shows are springing up out of the woodwork. Shows such as “Scandal“ or “Black-ish“ feature predominantly African-American casts. This is a significant step forward for society because people of color in any form of entertainment was seen more as pure entertainment rather than making a difference on television.
Television shows, such as “Empire“ or “How To Get Away With Murder,” use the stereotypes of African-Americans and put a more positive spin on them. For example, Taraji P. Hensen, one of the stars of the show Empire, plays a character named Cookie Lyons, a loud, smack-talking sassy black woman. Hensen’s character is a take-charge type of person that will not let anyone walk all over her.
To most viewers, her character is just some stereotypical, sassy black woman. But to others, she is just a strong female character who will not let anyone take advantage of her – even if she has to be a little bit louder and more commanding than the average human being.
Television is becoming more racially diverse and broadening its horizons so that viewers can begin to open their eyes too a much bigger picture. Viewers can be more aware of the scarcity of roles for actors and actresses of color. More and more black actors and actresses are rising up to become very prominent members of the acting world.
Rather than judging by color, people are now judging by ability. The Emmy Awards proved this to be true, when three women of color — Viola Davis, Regina King and Uzo Aduba– each took home an Emmy for either best actress or best supporting actress.
This is a special time in history for people of color, and the world is beginning to accept and understand that there will be more people of color joining the ranks of these three women. People of color have always been around and will continue to grow in this community. Their talents should not be measured by their skin color, but by their ability to evoke emotion and portray characters through their talents as actors and actresses.