At a recent Hollywood Reporter (THR) Roundtable, with a tightened jaw and tear welled eyes, Taraji P. Henson’s (EMPIRE)
empathetic face seemed to silently say it all, “Will I Ever Be Good Enough for Hollywood?”
Henson’s heartwrenching reaction was in response to fellow African-American actress, Viola Davis,’ comment about her role as sexualized, Professor Annalise Keating, on ABC’s ‘How to Get Away with Murder.’ In this very candid, straightforward and open discussion about “real” women on TV in the midst of Pop Fiction, Davis said,
“…I knew what was going to come at me. I’m gonna have to face the fact that people are going to look at me and say, ‘I have no idea why they cast her in a role like this. She doesn’t walk like a super model in those heels.”
She doesn’t walk like a super model in those heels? How do we begin to heal as women, as minorities, as gay/lesbian/transgender, as those who are “different” from the norm in such a judgmental society? Why is there a different standard upheld for minority than for mainstream? For full figured and curvy than for fit and trim? For gay/lesbian/transgender than for straight? Are we a society so blinded by the physical that we can’t seem to recognize the depth of talent, skill and artistry behind the body that it comes in?
Now as artists, grant it, you will not always be the “right” typing for every role or always sing, dance or rap the “right” song but, you must learn to focus on what Davis calls, “…a chance for me to use my craft.” And whether your work receives rave reviews or two thumbs down, you must consistently strive to present the best you that you have to offer anyone willing to take the time to notice your work. Don’t let Hollywood, or society for that matter, be your gauge, barometer or measuring stick. Let hard work, being in the zone, and doing your personal best determine your worth. And in time, like ABC’s ‘How to Get Away with Murder’s’ leading lady, Viola Davis, with determination, consistent effort, and resilience, your talent and skill will resoundingly declare, “I AM good enough, doggone it!”