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Actors of color 'symbols of success' in awards season

Updated: Mar 23, 2023


Photo: American Broadcasting Inc.

Not long ago was it rare to see multiple actors/actresses of color win honorary awards for their profession. It was no surprise that racism was active in considering that many old-time movies portrayed blatantly racist tropes and stereotypes of minorities. Yet, as time progressed, so did the industry. Many of Hollywood’s stars in the acting industry have gained notoriety for their impressive performance in movies, and some are even recognized as symbols of success in their communities, despite facing hurdles as a minority.

A star that comes to my mind who has led groundbreaking moments in Hollywood is Quinta Brunson. Before Brunson became known as Janine on Abbott Elementary, she started her career as a video producer on Buzzfeed. Bruson would rise to fame quickly after going viral on her series Girl Who Has Never Been On A Nice Date. Even after leaving Buzzfeed, Brunson’s years of hard work and perseverance would prove to be fruitful after establishing a contract with ABC as to be a producer and cast as main lead for Abbott Elementary.

The show is essentially about a comical and quirky school staff trying to make the best out their school while trying to make ends meet. Not only was the show a success, but Brunson also won several accolades such as a SAGS award, a Golden Globe, an Emmy award, and was even the youngest Black actress to be nominated for an Emmy in comedy acting series.

Amazingly, Quinta Brunson wasn’t the only actress that won accolades from the show. Quinta’s co-star, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who is most notable for starring in Moesha, Its A Living, and in the Broadway play Dreamgirls in which she won a Tony award, would win several accolades such as an Emmy, SAGS award, and Critics Choice Award for starring in the comedy show. Not only is Ralph is widely regarded in the Black community for breaking barriers as a Black actress in the Hollywood industry, but she is also a testament that anything is possible despite what naysayers may say. As she stated in her speech at the Emmy awards, “ To anyone who has ever had a dream and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like,”.

Alongside Abbott Elementary's momentary wins, the cast of the film Everywhere Everywhere All At Once set records and huge wins for the Asian community. The film, which takes place in LA, covers the adventure of a middle-aged East Asian woman, who can save the existence of mankind by traveling into other universes while also discovering the lives she could have led.

Michelle Yeoh, the main lead of the movie, won several accolades and made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win the SAGS award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role. Along with Michelle, Ke Huy Quan, who is also of Asian descent, won several awards including SAGS. The cast of the movie would also be recognized for having the nominations together for the Oscars.

Although racism in Hollywood is far from over, it is a breath of fresh air to see that despite the barriers that remain for Hollywood’s stars of color, success is still possible.

Toni Powell is a reporter for the Voice.

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