"I don't battle anymore! I uplift motherfuckers!" - GZA
Friday, April 07, 2006,8:53 AM
Black Stars of Past and Present
Black stars of past and present
Images of people of color are loaded with meaning:

Dave Chappelle knows well the dance between life and performance. "White people come up to me and say, 'Oh that show you did about the n-word was great!' " His reaction, he told James Lipton: "Oooo, I want to fight you."

Halle Berry: Many still feel her Oscar high point was a cultural nadir. Berry has yet to find a role to change their hearts.

Denzel Washington: Many consider him the heir and then some to Sidney Poitier's grace and fire.

Queen Latifah: Her lowest point won her an NAACP award. Yet, her choices since suggest she gets the power of image in her audience's lives.

Hattie McDaniel: For an account of the Denver native's actions during "Gone With the Wind," read Jill Watts' biography, "Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood." But consider: When rappers celebrate getting paid over all else, they may have torn a page from her play-the-game book.

Tyler Perry: This cottage industry of one says he has plenty more Madea stories. Is that the only way audiences will come to his tales about love, forgiveness and redemption?

Sidney Poitier: Just watch "A Raisin in the Sun," "The Defiant Ones" or, what the heck, "Uptown Saturday Night" to know that he simmered, he boiled, and owned the screen with a smile and surprising physicality.

Martin Lawrence: Back away from that dress, Maaahtin.

Stepin Fetchit: Lincoln Perry, the black character actor, provides a case study in what happen when a persona takes over a life and doesn't give it back.

Richard Pryor: Late, great, but hardly innocent when it came to confounding us with the hilariously negative.

Angela Bassett: Almost every actress was robbed in 1993 when Holly Hunter won the Academy Award, but Bassett's performance as Tina Turner promised us an actress for the ages.

Eddie "Rochester" Anderson: 20-year radio, TV relationship with Jack Benny showed that broad comedy could react to the times.
posted by R J Noriega
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