“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” – Rosa Parks.
What is the purpose of Black History month?
It’s February which is the time in which we acknowledge Black History Month, this month is dedicated to celebrating the great accomplishments of black people in America throughout history. Black actors in Hollywood are some of the many people celebrated during February, they have made history in Hollywood with their work and have also broken social barriers that have been around for quite a while. An anonymous student here at Weiss says, “It’s important to celebrate black history because we are all equal people and everybody deserves to have their history put out into the world.”
The beginning of black history in Hollywood
Hollywood dates all the way back to 1919, but it wasn’t inclusive to all races in the beginning. The first recognized black actor was named Lincoln Perry, better recognized as his role of Stephen Fitchet. He first appeared on the Hollywood scene in 1929, he would then go on to be a part of more than 40 movies in all of his career. He was one of the well-known comedy actors of that time, he was the first black actor in Hollywood to achieve the status of a millionaire. Although his roles were sometimes controversial in the eyes of the public he still managed to acquire a great amount of success in his career, Perry would be the first of many more prosperous African American actors in Hollywood.
Progress and Records
Usually, African Americans in Hollywood were given roles of cooks and maids but after a while, they were able to land different kinds of roles in movies and T.V shows, this led to many records being set and a lot of misconceptions were broken and proven wrong.
In 1939, Ethel Waters was the first black woman to star in her own T.V show, she was also the first black actress to be nominated for an award.
In 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African American woman to win an Oscar for best-supporting actress in the film titled “Gone With the Wind,” this was a big accomplishment which made Hollywood history. This was a sign of progress and encouragement for black actors in Hollywood but things just didn’t get easy from here on out, there was still a lot of racial discrimination in the Hollywood scene but it was clear now that it was not impossible for black actors to gain success. These accomplishments were only the first of many more to come.
In 1956, Nat King Cole was the first African American man to be the host of a nationwide show on NBC, unfortunately, his show was later canceled around a year later because it lacked sponsorship.
In 1972, Fat Albert was created, it was the first cartoon show to feature an all-black cast, it was very successful, it ran for 9 seasons from 1972 all the way up to 1985. It also ended up getting nominated for an Emmy.
In 2002, Halle Berry became the first African American to win an Academy Award for best actress, it has been 17 years since this record was set and no other black actress has won this same award as of now.
In 2017, Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) became the first black man to win an Emmy award for directing a comedy series.
Throughout the years, African Americans were able to acquire a great amount of success in Hollywood, break and set records, and contribute to American pop culture. All of these accomplishments just scratch the surface on how our entertainment industry could be when we equally represent all of the diverse cultures we share this planet with. Here’s to a more diverse environment in Hollywood.