Vanity Fair's Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)

Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)

The 2012 Hollywood Issue cover of Vanity Fair — shot by Mario Testino — features 11 "starlets" shot in satin and feathers for a "'20s and '30s boudoir feel." The ladies on the power panel — the left third, aka the actual newsstand cover — are Rooney Mara, Mia Wasikowska, Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain. Pariah's Adepero Oduye and Mission Impossible's Paula Patton are the only two ladies of color, and they are not on the power panel, but on the right two-thirds of the cover, which is folded up and tucked away when on newsstands.

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Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)

This cover (click to enlarge) is an improvement from the 2010 Young Hollywood cover, which only featured white actresses. But it upholds the unfortunate tradition of shoving the people of color to the right and off if the main panel. Something Vanity Fair has been doing for years. (Usually Annie Leibovitz has been the photographer.)

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Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)

In 2011, Norman Jean Roy's photograph had Anthony Mackie and Rashida Jones off to the right.


Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)
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In 2008, it was Zoë Saldana and America Ferrera. (In 2007, Chris Rock was indeed on the cover and some penguins were on the right. 2006 was Tom Ford and some naked ladies. Black folks also appeared on the Hollywood issue cover in 1998 — Djimon Hounsou — and 1999 — Thandie Newton.)


Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)
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2005: Rosario Dawson, Ziyi Zhang and Kerry Washington, on the right and not the left.


Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)
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2004: Salma Hayek and Lucy Liu, on the right and not the left power panel.


Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)
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2003: Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle, off the cover.


Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)
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2002, Rosario Dawson.


Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)
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In 2001, no black ladies were pushed aside because no black ladies were photographed!


Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)
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1997: Jada Pinkett and Jennifer Lopez on the right.


Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)
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1996: Will Smith on the right.


Illustration for article titled emVanity Fair/ems Hollywood Issue Pushes Actresses Of Color Aside (Again!)
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1995: Angela Basset on the right.


2011 was supposedly the whitest Oscars in 10 years. This year, thanks to the decidedly controversial flick The Help, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have been nominated (and winning!) some major awards. But it's pretty obvious that Hollywood has a serious problem with diversity. A headline on ColorLines yesterday read: Why is Hollywood So Afraid of Black Women? Of course, it's not just women; George Lucas recently accused Hollywood of being so racist even he, a successful filmmaker, had trouble getting Red Tails distributed, since it has an all-black cast.

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America has a black president. We also have black actresses being recognized for playing maids in a film based on a book written by a white woman who got sued by her family's black maid who claims the story is "embarrassing" and "emotionally upsetting." Hollywood might be one of our biggest exports to the rest of the world, but it's pretty clear it needs an overhaul. Fast.

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The 2012 Hollywood Cover, Revealed: 11 Thoroughly Modern Actresses [Vanity Fair]
Why is Hollywood So Afraid of Black Women? [ColorLines]

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Earlier:
Black Maid Sues Over Best-Selling Novel The Help
Vanity Fair's Hollywood Issue Shoves People Of Color To The Side (As Usual)
"Young Hollywood" Is White, Thin

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Related: V.F.'s Hollywood Issue: The Annie Leibovitz Covers [Vanity Fair]

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DISCUSSION

I'm curious how the "cast" of these covers come together and how much campaigning the VF staff are subjected to. How many screaming phone calls does Weinstein have to make? [Was CPR ever involved?] What kind of favors get traded (interviews, behind-the-scenes access, etc.)? Yes, I'm saying the industry tells us who we need to get on board with, based on the coming year's schedule of releases, and VF is a second-tier player in that. Just like fashion mags. And how often are they taking a risk on someone of color on their covers?

Historically, the "young Hollywood" power panel has gone to that year's "hottest" actors — the prettiest, most primed for A-list status — and with few exceptions, it's been like a crystal ball. Vanity Fair isn't working in a vacuum. Until the studios/agencies decide to put the kind of mojo behind someone of color* that they do for someone like, say, Anne Hathaway**, you're not going to see anyone of color on the cover.

Anyone doubting that VF cuts deals regarding starlets should Google Ms. Moll here and see how that worked out for everyone involved. Hint: CDAN features her in a number of horrifying blind items.

* Will Smith is probably the A-lister of color who got most "buried" on the cover, but that was still in 1996, several months before he finally broke out at the box office. Vanity Fair was ahead of the curve on that and he later got his own cover (July 1999 — to coincide with the release of Wild Wild West).

** C'mon, Hathaway is NOT as great as the career she enjoys but she has made the "power panel" twice.