Mz Carroll’s Coded Message

Posted: September 24, 2013 in General Interest, Scandal

20130923-170718.jpgTwo acting icons, one old, one new, stood on stage Sunday night at the Emmy’s. Both WERKED their age appropriate collective fierceness. Both brought a level a class and elegance to the stage. Both recognized the significance of their presence at the event.

Mz Diahann stood off to the side of the mic, waiting for Mz Kerry to introduce her.

Then Lady Di stunned the director in the control booth by whipping out a lil folded piece of paper with a speech so full of coded messages to Black viewers you would have thought she was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It just didn’t seem like a scripted part of the show, and probably wasn’t on the Teleprompter. When she spoke about how TV has come a long way, what she meant was that it’s been 50 years since she was first nominated, and did not win, and a black female still has not won in the lead actress drama category. When she joked about how male costars are better looking now, and her co star in ’68 was Lloyd Nolan, what she meant was just because Kerry got to roll around and have TV sex almost every week, on national TV in 2013, HER male costar was an old man so there would be no risk of the appearance of interracial hanky panky. What these two woman have in common is that  neither one of them have  yet to be recognized for their ground breaking performances.

Here’s what’s different. “Julia” was a nurse so beautiful and alluring that the show did everything it could to de-sexualize her in order to sell her to the masses. She worked as a trained professional, not a maid, she lived in the suburbs. She didn’t even have a husband, she was the widow of a pilot who got shot down in Vietnam. A black hubby would’ve meant that 1968 TV would have had to show a loving, intact, black family from the suburbs,  openly showing each other affection.  She did get a boyfriend, Fred Williamson’s swaggy self, but he came later. I LOVED JULIA, at eleven years old I thought everything about that show was fabulous. I probably watched all 89 episodes.

Mz Pope in 2013,  has been hypersexualized, so alluring that even the fictitious Prez of United States can’t resist her. They can barely be in the same room without setting the seats on fire. “Look America, we’re having hot interracial sex on national TV.” I LOVE SCANDAL, I love everything about the show and think it’s fabulous. The clothes, the plots, the way Olivia stares a person down and “reads them for filth”, Fitz, and more Fitz, but in the episode where Olivia looked Fitzgerald Grant dead in his handsome irresistible face and told him “I’m feeling very Sally Hemmings here,” we all knew exactly what she meant.

Since Mz Carroll was a presenter, announcing and handing out an award that she would never receive, there was NO WAY the director could have cued the “shut it down and get off our stage” music they so rudely play when people take too long at the mic. So I bet there was a ton of fretting and sweating up in the control booth while they wondered how long her probable impromptu speech would go on. I would have paid to see them squirm; how do you silence an acting icon who is up there TELLING AMERICA THE TRUTH? Ha you don’t.

Mz Caroll was the FIRST EVER person of color of either gender to be nominated for an Emmy in 1963, for a guest roll in the miniseries Naked City. Six years later, she was nominated for best actress lead in a comedy, for her role in Julia. Complete stats for People of Color and the Emmys, are here. Notice I didn’t say winner. Here’s what’s the same. There has NEVER been a black female winner in the best dramatic lead actress category in 65 freakin years of Emmys. We’ve won sporadically in other categories, but never for best actress lead in a drama. SERIOUSLY, it’s 2013, so I get to use my favorite saying: WE ARE STILL GOING BACK TO THE FUTURE!

So Mz Caroll got to have her say, and Mz Washington got to stand there thinking “YESSSSS Aunt Diahann, TEACH,  you better put it on em.  Whoa, and thank you very much.” Since Mz Carroll has spent multiple decades on the world stage, she did what she knew Kerry Washington could not, she gave her protege the gift of a public service announcement on the sorry state of lack of inclusion in Hollywood. Sure she didn’t make it overly controversial, you had to listen for what was unsaid. At 78 Diahann Carroll can say whatever she wants, she could have also batted her fluffy false eyelashes, and told the Emmy voting panel to kiss her shiny 1962 Tony award, and her 1968 Golden Globe (for Julia), but she’s too much a lady to sink that low.

Kerry didn’t win, but like all actors of color, ANY color, she makes a damn good presenter.

She’s the first black actress since 1995 (do the math) to be nominated in her category. Notice how almost two decades were skipped before one of us was nominated again?

Black viewers are crushed, but not surprised. People are calling for boycotts, but Hollywood hasn’t really changed in 75 years. Ever since the 40’s and 50’s when Black actors took the role of chauffeur, or maid, actors have to take whatever work they can get. Sure some can be selective when they can afford it, but everyone in Hollywood doesn’t  have  that luxury. Black Hollywood also can’t afford to blatantly boycott, and throw themselves under the mainstream awards show bus.

In the mean time, I’m going to stomp around and be mad on their behalf, and continue to bow down to these two.


They are beyond fierce!

  1. zoerabbit says:

    Yes!! All of this!!


  2. My favorite line: “you would have thought she was a stop on the Underground Railroad.”


  3. Petronia says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU , THANK YOU!! A perfectly great analysis of the hypocrisy of awards that FAIL to recognize and award the BEST in many categories of life.


  4. Paulette Brown says:

    Well done!!!

    Sent from my iPhone



  5. Absolutely spot on – but I’ll up ya’ one. Hollywood rarely
    takes women of ANY color seriously. If you have the kind of looks
    whoever currently has power in Hollywood thinks is hot (as long as
    you are not visibly older than whatever the H-juice currently
    thinks is young), you get a shot at certain types of roles with
    more VISIBILITY now – better scripts and a lot more screen time,
    which comes with a paycheck large enough to keep you going between
    projects (without moving to them). That’s step ONE of the
    win-an-award-road, and even that step is by no means on solid
    footing yet. And there are a few [mostly white] exceptions to the
    young and hot rule. STILL, male actors have a HUGE range of options
    — a range that is currently not available unless your body
    contains enough testosterone to be able to grow a decent beard.
    Hollywood has no incentive to change – and it never will unless and
    until we give ’em some – at the BOX OFFICE. We need to stop buying
    tickets and/or going to see all-male, mostly-male, and strong
    male-with-female-functionary movies (and wait for i-net or DVD
    release), and we need to make SURE we support those films that cast
    strong women in strong roles – at the Box Office. Just because
    there are multiple women with a lot of lines in a film doesn’t
    automatically make it a chick-flick — but I don’t believe H-wood
    thinks along those lines (um, could I have ended that sentence 3
    words sooner?) What we REALLY need to do, ladies, is inspire the
    female “names” who are directing and producing to put their
    collective and individual shoulders to this wheel. The urge to play
    it “formulaically safe” must be strong indeed, but confidence and
    clout are two sides of the same coin. Flip it! Even the names who
    weren’t up for overt advocacy could make a big difference in screen
    presence demographics — which would go a long way toward a LOT of
    goals for a quite a few communities of talented human beings who
    are not being given a level playing field for a lot more than a
    shot at an award. And then we need to do what every “special
    interest group” does: LOBBY! Not Govt., not even H-wood – but those
    who are VOTING for these winners. And the most effective lobbyists
    don’t grandstand, they do it one-on-one in private: influence vs
    intimidation, cigars and brandy, behind locked doors kind of stuff.
    Of course, we could try an even older approach if we believe that
    WE might be more successful than the ladies of Lysistrata – going
    on sexual strike, this time for equality vs. peace (attaining the
    first would probably go a long way to achieving the other! (HEY –
    lobbying doesn’t sound so tough now, does it?!)) Ex-actor/director,
    ringing in with my two cents. LOVE the post – YOU GO GIRL!!! ~~~~~
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC – ADD Coach Training Field
    founder; ADD Coaching co-founder – (blogs: ADDandSoMuchMore,
    ADDerWorld & ethosconsultancynz – dot com) “It takes a
    village to transform a world!”


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