Depression Divas

“…. During the Depression, more African American women worked in popular movies than ever before. The hitch was that the place the film industry found for the black actress was in the kitchen or pantry or servants’ quarters….

“The Hollywood diva… was dressed by the studio in gingham and rags and made to speak a dem-and-dose dialect. Audiences saw black movie heroines playing servants–and rigidly stereotyped ones at that…. demeaning as Hollywood’s casting system was, some remarkable African American women were able to inject vigor and some pizzazz into their cheap trashy roles. Interestingly enough, the black woman of the 1930s films came–on her own terms–to represent beneath the stereotype the idea of energy, drive, spunk, and that good-old American virtue of self-reliance and self-sufficiency too: the ability to get through, no matter what…. giving in the long run intensely interesting, idiosyncratic performances….”

Donald Bogle, Brown Sugar: Over One Hundred Years of America’s Black Female Superstars, p. 73

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: