Sophisticated Ladies!

NAMES CARROLLThe Fabulous Diane Carrol 


 Thespian Magic in Black, Brown and Biege

 Of all the frauds white society has perpetrated against Afro-Americans, none is more incredible than the way Hollywood used the art of cinema to convince the world that blond Caucasoid women were far and away the most beautiful and talented sorority of the feminine gender.  It was bunko at its best!  I have been pondering this bogus claim off and on for years.  It began this time around when I saw “Waiting to exhale,” and was blown away by the combination of talent and beauty in such rare abundance. 

 Then Stella got her groove back and Angela Bassett, Whoppi Goldberg, et al. flooded the screen with mature images of sensual   sophistication and soul.  Not long after that visual treat I discovered “Why Do fools Fall In Love?”  The portraits of the late great rhythm and blues artist Frankie Lymon’s wives were rendered with wit and charm by the beautiful and gifted divas Halle Berry, Lela Rochan and Vivica Fox.  Lynn Whitfield, Debbie Morgan, Diane Carol and another silver haired vintage fox, whose name escapes me, along with some darling and superbly gifted young girls, bewitched me in Eve’s Bayou. 

            It seems that all around me there are teasing tans, bubbling brown sugars and tasty chocolate drops, their sunshine smiles and voluptuous derrieres flickering across my TV tube, rocking my world.  Whether they are struttin their stuff on the numerous black sitcoms – like the endless parade of brick house honeys that appear on Martin replays, Malcolm and Eddie, et al – or giving dramatic readings of mediocre scripts and making soap operas grand. 

           Lynn Whitfield


The Gorgeous Lynn Whitfield


The advent of the music video has enabled us to finally capture and preserve the sensual power and exquisite grace of the dance movements which appear to be a common cultural treasure shared by all black women everywhere.  (A phenomenon duly noted by NYU law professor Derek Bell in his novel “Gospel Choirs)   It is like having mini-versions of Soul Train as a visual accompaniment to every record with a rap or R&B flavor. And I’m a big-time Soul Train fan! 

Recently I found myself thrilled by an exhibition of the Afro-American special flair for the theatrical stage.  I checked out “The Trial of One Short- sighted Black woman Vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae,” a Woody King production at the New Federal Theater.  The play, written by Chicago Playwright Marcia L. Leslie, was a work of serious agit-prop which could easily have degenerated into a preachy bore without Paul Carter Harrison’s artful direction. 

 The tragi-comic drama showcased the splendid dramatic and comedic gifts of Carla Brothers as Safreeta Mae, and Ebony Jo-Ann as Mammy Louise, and also provided an excellent vehicle for the rest of the cast, which included: Brenda Denmark, Barbra Montgomery, Petronia Paley and Joanna Rhinehart.               


Vivica Fox!

 Vivica Fox!

 The play was written so that the actresses – whose complexions, faces and body shapes ran the amazingly varied spectrum of Afro-Americana – played to the audience, who served as the jury for the mock trial on stage.  The form of the play provided a splendid opportunity for these terrific black and tan thespians to show off their mastery of English elocution.  Aside from being too often deprived of the sheer spectacle of their beauty, due to the limited roles available to black actresses, we are being spiritually impoverished by too few opportunities to be enriched by their dramatic gifts.  These gifts are real and powerful.  They possess the power to soothe the savage beast that lurks within us all. 



 The Bond Girl!


Anyone who doubts this need only observe the splendid alchemy conjured up by Alfre Woodward, under the direction of the poet-sorceress Maya Angelo, in the recently released feature film “Down in the Delta.”   And the marvelous performances of Ruby Dee and Diana Carroll as the Delaney Sisters in the TV version of the autobiographical drama, “Having Our Say,” were a deeply moving spiritual experience. 

    Angela Basset!

 Angela Basset


 Alfre Woodard, however, is a unique talent even in this gifted crowd.  The various characters she has convincingly breathed life into on the big silver screen over the last decade – whether a wide eyed country girl ala “Miss Firecracker, or a big city vamp in “Down In the Delta” – is nothing short of astonishing. Although Afro-American actresses must continually struggle for meaningful roles, these sophisticated ladies of the dramatic arts represent an embarrassment of riches!

 Debbie Morgan

Debbie Morgan  in Eve's Bayou 


Like A Fine Rare Wine

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