Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige, Angela Bassett, Lynn Whitfield, Halle Berry & Kimberly Elise All In One Picture.

Women of Color actresses  including  Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige, Angela Bassett, Lynn Whitfield, Halle Berry and Kimberly Elise sat down with The New York Times’ T Magazine to discuss the importance of representation in media, as well as some of the issues they have experience .

Illustration for article titled Black Actresses Discuss Importance of Representation and Diversity in New Interview
Screenshot: Scott J. Ross (The New York Times/T Magazine)

“At the end of the day, I don’t think you can get anywhere without connection, and especially in a business that we keep criticizing of being deprived of black narratives, so I have to feel a kinship,” Oscar winner Davis explained.

Halle Berry, is presently the only black woman in history  who has won an Academy Award for Best Actress, says that black women always “understand and are knowing of the struggle.

Illustration for article titled Black Actresses Discuss Importance of Representation and Diversity in New Interview
Screenshot: Scott J. Ross (The New York Times/T Magazine)

In terms of Hollywood today, many of the actresses said that diversification in the types of roles is important. Lynn Whitfield explained that black people are “not monolithic,” while Mary J. Blige explained, “There’s so much more than we can do other than being a slave.”

Illustration for article titled Black Actresses Discuss Importance of Representation and Diversity in New Interview
Screenshot: Scott J. Ross (The New York Times/T Magazine)

“Whoever decides to give us these jobs, they need to look at us past being black actresses—just look at us as actresses,” she continues.

“What I see Hollywood do is feature one or two of us, and they’ll ignore the rest of us like we don’t exist,” Elise said. “It gives the illusion that we’re moving forward, but it’s really disempowering the collective.”

Illustration for article titled Black Actresses Discuss Importance of Representation and Diversity in New Interview
Screenshot: Scott J. Ross (The New York Times/T Magazine)

The actresses thanked actresses   directors and producers who have paved the way for them in the industry . Angela Bassett acknowledged  Gloria Foster and Mary Alice, while Taraji P. Henson thanked  Pam Grier and Debbie Allen. (“If it were not for them, I would have never been able to dream,” she said.)

Illustration for article titled Black Actresses Discuss Importance of Representation and Diversity in New Interview
Screenshot: Scott J. Ross (The New York Times/T Magazine)

Shonda Rhimes was appreciated and thanked  by the women for  casting  black women in empowering positions on her shows like Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder.

“[Rhimes] helped to change everything,” Whitfield explained. “The black woman took charge and showed you black women of power.”

Illustration for article titled Black Actresses Discuss Importance of Representation and Diversity in New Interview
Screenshot: Scott J. Ross (The New York Times/T Magazine)

What are some of the qualities these leading ladies possess that has made them staples in Hollywood? Bassett and Davis say that there is a common thread—
authenticity.

Illustration for article titled Black Actresses Discuss Importance of Representation and Diversity in New Interview
Screenshot: Scott J. Ross (The New York Times/T Magazine)

“Be dynamic, be special, be eye-catching, be alluring…be you,” Bassett explains, while Davis says “it’s a lot of responsibility to just be true to you…especially in a town that’s not necessarily about that.”

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