The Crisis Of The Black Leading Man

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LOS ANGELES-Indiewire has posted an Op-Ed piece about the lack of young successful  Black lead actors in Hollywood as Denzel Washington and other Black male actors get older. Of all the current Black male lead actors only one, Idris Elba at 38 is younger than 40.

That is not a surprise. One outcome of Hollywood’s indifference to black leading men is that it isn’t invested in finding the next new black stars. When Tom Cruise was at his box office peak a repeated stated goal of Hollywood insiders was to find the next Tom Cruise. However despite his succession of Cruise as box office king, there hasn’t been a rush to find the next Will Smith. Hell, it can be argued Hollywood had little interest in finding the “first” Will Smith. German director Roland Emmerich had to fight tooth and nail with 20th Century Fox to get Smith a lead role in “Independence Day”. The studio was set against having Smith, fresh off the success of Bad Boys”, play the role of pilot Captain Steven Hiller. They wanted a white actor for the part. But Emmerich put his foot down and insisted that the part should go to Smith. Emmerich won and the rest of it is history. Smith’s ensuing rise to the top probably doesn’t happen without the huge lift he got from that film. Despite Smith’s success Hollywood’s reluctance to hand out highly sought after roles to young black actors has not changed. What’s worse for these actors is that there doesn’t appear to be directors like Emmerich out there willing to fight for them either.

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