It feels as if I’ve spent half my time, of late, calling out magazines for all kinds of foolishness but I am so pleased this is not the case here. When something is done well it ought to be acknowledged, even if its by a source that has, in the past, been in the wrong. I’m a firm believer that if we keep talking about an issue, pressing on and debating, at some point, we can affect change.
Vanity Fair has released its annual Hollywood Issue and wouldn’t you know it, what a brilliant, brilliant cover this is.
When certain magazines try to focus on diversity it feels contrived; some publications have to separate because they are clueless about how to depict a thoroughly diverse cast of talent without making it seem forced, at times insulting. Its almost a cause to throw a parade when a Black actor makes the cover of a magazine deemed mainstream or wins an award of some prestige in popular culture. Therefore, in that respect, this cover signifies something almost momentous, besides being pretty damn spectacular. For once we are not being shunted into a thematic issue, we are included in the mainstream and celebrated. In the past Vanity Fair has often focused on White actors as the crux of its own version of Hollywood, and whilst Hollywood is mostly to blame for such a myopic view, the magazine is not without fault.
This 2014 cover speaks about Hollywood without colour boundaries and a celebration of some of the most critically acclaimed talents of our time- Chiwetel Ejiofor- 12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts- August Osage County, Idris Elba- Mandela; Long Walk to Freedom. George Clooney- Gravity, Michael B. Jordan- Fruitvale Station, Jared Leto- Dallas Buyers Club, Lupita N’yongo- 12 Years a Slave, Naomie Harris- Mandela; Long Walk to Freedom, Brie Larson- Short Term 12, Chadwick Boseman- 42, Margot Robbie- The Wolf of Wall Street, Léa Seydoux- Blue is the Warmest Colour.
Now compare this cover to the gallery of Hollywood Issues from Vanity Fair since its inception. Spot a difference?
Whilst there have been Black actors on some covers of the Hollywood Issues, it has never been so all encompassing, it felt more like an obligation or a bid to avoid public slack. That six of the twelve actors on the 2014 Hollywood cover are Black is especially noteworthy for aforementioned reasons.
As Vanity Fair states, it has been a “spectacular year” in film with some of the most poignant performances from a group of “distinguished actors” to date. This issue is a job very, very well done by Vanity Fair in acknowledgement of such varied talent.
Here’s hoping for more of this.
Image Credits- Vanity Fair.