There’s part of me that feels like I should get angry that once again, Vanity Fair’s starlet-filled cover for its Hollywood issue is pretty white, and that it confines the women of color who make the spread — Pariah‘s Adepero Oduye and Paula Patton, whom I’m fine with but whose biggest projects in the last year were Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Jumping the Broom — are confined to the inside folds rather than on the cover. But honestly, this feels like a pretty accurate representation of non-white women’s actual position in Hollywood.
They don’t get the prestige roles in franchises like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or The Hunger Games because god forbid we racebend an established character. They don’t get to be breakout indie queens like Jessica Chastain. Instead, they get praised for work in indies that few people will ever see, they get to be the eye candy in big ensembles dominated by white men, or they get to make commercially successful movies like Jumping the Broom that will be essentially ignored by the white establishment and white audiences. The two black women who are having their biggest years in Hollywood right now, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, are considered too old to fit in this parade of starlets. It might be nice for Vanity Fair to feature more black, Latino, and Asian women in this lineup, and to get one of them on the cover. But if it’s meant to be a reflection of where Hollywood’s at, it would be dishonest, a glossy papering-over of a still-gaping hole.