There was a very long time being a black person in the United States wasn’t easy at all. And we are not referring only to the period of slavery, which from this point of view is taken for granted. Even until a few years ago – and to a lesser extent still today – African Americans were discriminated against in society, at work, in civil rights.
You have certainly read about the recent problems between the police and that community (which are not new anyway) but just go with your memory to the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, which took place at a time when it was thought that integration was now a reality. , to realize how problematic it can be to have a skin of a different color.
In a small way, even in Hollywood black actors have experienced various forms of discrimination. But the world of cinema, like that of TV, has had and continues to have undoubted merit with respect to the outside world: it has been working and has been doing so for years, to overcome these discriminations.
1. Morgan Freeman
Speaking of Academy Awards, one of those who managed to win it is Morgan Freeman, even if the milestone was reached later than expected and for a supporting role.
It was in fact 2006 and Freeman was almost 68 when he took the award stage to collect the statuette for Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, crowning his fourth nomination (a fifth would arrive a few years later for Invictus ).
Born in Memphis in 1937, he was the son of a barber and a cleaning lady. After some experience in school theater groups, his humble beginnings prompted him to start working as a mechanic. Around the age of thirty, however, he managed to make the leap from the amateur theater – which he had continued to attend – to the world of professionals, making his debut on Broadway.
From there came the first engagements, especially on television: he began to make himself known in fact by joining the cast of the soap Destini and the educational program The Electric Company.
2. Samuel L. Jackson
Another black actor who has had a late success is Samuel L. Jackson. Born in Washington in 1948, he was soon abandoned by his father and then raised by his mother and grandparents in Tennessee. He approached acting because they recommended it as a good way to overcome a mild stutter.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he thus began to find some part in New York, also working in the same theater company as Morgan Freeman. In addition, he participated in the making of the serial I Robinson, but never appeared in a video.
3. Denzel Washington
As we have seen, in recent years the Academy Award has no longer been a taboo for actors – and actresses – of color.
The most loved professional by the Academy, however, is undoubtedly Denzel Washington, who can boast two Academy Awards in his career (for Glory and Training Day ) but also four other nominations, as well as three Golden Globes (again for Glory, for Hurricane, and for career ) and two Silver Bears in Berlin (for Malcolm X and again for Hurricane ).
Denzel Washington in The Taste of Victory, one of the best American football movies
Born in 1954, he became passionate about acting at school, making his debut in the entertainment world in the late 70s and early 80s. The fame grew from 1982 when he landed the part of a doctor in the TV series Open Heart, in which he appeared for six seasons.
Thus began to arrive engagements for increasingly busy parts: in 1987 he starred in Richard Attenborough’s Cry of Freedom, while in 1990 he received excellent reviews for his work in Glory.
4. Laurence Fishburne
Perhaps less well-known than the others in our five, Laurence Fishburne is however an excellent actor, not surprisingly awarded in various circumstances. An actor whose career is fairly evenly divided between film and television, often with major productions.
Born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1961, he grew up and studied in New York. His debut in the world of acting took place very early since at just 14, lying about his age, he managed to get caught for a part in Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola, which was then released, after a very long process, a few years later.
That part did not go unnoticed and helped bring him his first engagements. In the early 1980s, he starred in box films such as Nightmare 2 and Nightmare 3, but also in major productions such as Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple and a number of other Coppola films ( Rusty the Wild, Cotton Club, and Gardens of stone ).
He then began to work on a long series of films often met with excellent reviews, but with little success with the general public. Among these, it is worth noting Tina – What’s Love Got to Do with it, which earned him an Oscar nomination.
5. Will Smith
We conclude with the youngest of the five, Will Smith. Born in Philadelphia in 1968, he has had a successful and highly original career, which has seen him range from music to TV, from mega-productions to more committed films.
The debut took place shortly after the mid-80s, when, together with his friend Jeffrey Townes and Clarence Holmes, he gave birth, in his native Philadelphia, to a rap trio called DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince.