Lupita! Girl! You made the covers of Vanity Fair and New York magazine’s Spring Fashion Issue. Jared Leto stays touching you just-intimately-enough in red carpet pics. You and your lollipop pink lips are front row at Calvin Klein, perched prominently next to The Wintour of our Discontent. You’re, like, the prettiest person to ever draw a breath. Everyone’s getting back into TWAs. And most significantly, your Patsey was one of the most stupendous performances any of us have ever witnessed on film. You’re the industry darling. You’re that chick. It’s what every young actress hopes will happen — after toiling away in drama school, they break through one day and become IT. But what now?
When Julia Roberts broke through with Steel Magnolias, she landed Pretty Woman. After Jennifer Lawrence grabbed everyone’s attention in Winter’s Bone, she got Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook. Post-Kramer vs. Kramer, Meryl Streep found herself in Sophie’s Choice. Gwyneth went from Emma to Shakespeare in Love. There hasn’t been a single black actress with Lupita’s buzz — her breathless, unanimous, worshipful buzz — to ever be awarded game-changing career moves like theirs. Ever.[And don’t say Halle Berry, because she’s a movie star, not an actress…and it’s worth noting (always) that she had to take herself to some weirdly dark, uncomfortable-not-in-an-interesting-way places — prostrate in front of a racist white man, no less — to earn an Oscar. That’s the other thing. Unlike white starlets who suddenly become America’s Sweetheart, Lupita had to earn her title by playing a viciously tortured slave. Things are a little different for black women in Hollywood.]
I want Lupita to have the chance to have a career as rich as Gwyneth, Jennifer’s and Meryl’s, flush with layered roles and delicious stories. I want her to be cast as a quirky poetess who flees to Milan for a summer and falls for a grad student studying abroad, played by Michael B. Jordan and his lips. I want her to play Grace Jones in a decadently debaucherous biopic (I know she’s tiny — we’ll put her in gold lame platforms, it’ll be fine). I want her to be a movie star. I want her to have the kind of longevity where, fifteen years from her breakthrough role, she’s starring in a sci-fi vehicle where she’s floating aimlessly around space, flaunting her taut ass in boy shorts. I don’t want this to have been a moment where America got to feel great about falling in love with a beautiful, charming actress who forced us to feel things we didn’t want to. Where Hollywood screams “Brava,” and then ignores her, because casting directors have no idea what to do with a beautiful dark skinned girl with a ‘fro — who, even worse, so outclasses the Tyler Perry bullshit that’s considered “black cinema,” it’s outrageous.
Hollywood, do it right this time. We’re all watching.