I fully understand how Oprah felt. We're the same age. I vividly recall being a little boy, sitting on the living room floor in front of the big bulky box of a black and white TV, and watching when Anne Bancroft announced "...and the winner is...Sidney Poitier!" There he was with his excited, joyful, grateful and handsome self in a tuxedo. Anne Bancroft, a future co-star, was also joyful and excited. She kissed him on live TV in that Civil Rights era when network TV execs tried to forbid such a public display of interracial affection between artists.
Today, Lena Waite said that she had the exact same feeling when she watched the Oscar and Halle Berry became the first Black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress. That was in 2002. Halle Berry is, as of now, still the only Black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress.
In the lives of Lena Waithe, Oprah Winfrey and myself... this is proof that representation matters. If you've read my previous blog posts and listened to my podcasts, you know that I (with Keith Price) constantly call out the need for people of color to be seen on TV reviewing new films and adding insight to classic movies. The field of film critics and movie hosts that many of us grew up seeing has lacked race and gender diversity. Tiffany Haddish recently gave such a warm, funny, grateful and memorable acceptance speech at the recent New York Film Critics Circle awards dinner that she should've received a second award for her speech. She won for her supporting role performance in the hit comedy, GIRLS TRIP. During her speech, she mentioned that the only movie critics she'd ever seen growing up were Siskel and Ebert on TV.
I went into TV with the intention of changing images about Black people in and from South Central L.A. In addition to that, I wanted to show that we too should be added to the network TV discussion of films and be added to the conversation with filmmakers. We have knowledge. We have history. We have a voice.
Look for THE CHI on Showtime and MASTER OF NONE on Netflix.