Six accomplished performers discussed cultural perceptions, typecasting, inclusion and growing opportunities for black and female actors at a panel discussion at SAG-AFTRA Plaza on Feb. 28. Moderated and organized by event chair and MOVE L.A. committee member Barbara Roberts, the Images of Black Women in Entertainment panel welcomed guest speakers Lavelle Roby, Deidrie Henry, Cleo King, Joyce Guy, Cheryl Francis Harrington and Délé Ogundiran.
This year’s SAG Awards saw Black Panther win for best ensemble and Regina King take home the award for best supporting actor, two major wins that reﬂect the positive upturn in casting and content diversity audiences have been asking for. Celebrating their peer’s wins, panelists pointed out the increasing opportunities opening up for black and female actors, both in roles and in content creation. Panelists reﬂected on specific instances throughout their careers of being typecast as nurses, social workers or gang moms and being asked in auditions to be more “spicy” or “urban.” While some panelists expressed reluctance to go for such roles, others lamented the stereotype but acknowledged that even those roles are, at times, notable and can lead to more work. While there are still obstacles to overcome, Roby observed, there have been positive changes that have emerged since she began her career in the 1960s. She applauded the bravery of young female actors who have shed light on controversial material and paved a road for women to share their stories.
Opportunities have blossomed for black female actors in recent years, both on the big and small screens, as new platforms emerge and to work hard and stay authentic so that they will be prepared when the door opens.
Photo: From left, Délé Ogundiran, Lavelle Roby and Cheryl Francis Harrington discuss the advancements for black women in entertainment at SAG-AFTRA Plaza on Feb. 28.