Black Men I Need to See More

Tracy Oliver's article on Yahoo has got me thinking about all sorts of underappreciated actors of color.  I initially began my series noting how much more screen time Black men seemed to get over their fellow POC.  But as all POC are slowly whitened out of Hollywood, I've noticed that there are some Black male actors whom I need back on the screens right the hell now, or who are on the screens, but not enough.

Or who are on enough, but need better roles.

Lee Thompson Young

I adore Lee Thompson Young, not because of The Famous Jett Jackson, but because of the fact he grew up into a handsome, classy man with stunning eyes.

His death on FlashForward was an omen which heralded the death of the show itself.  If I recall correctly, he was their first major fuck-up.

Young is now on Rizzoli & Isles, but seeing as he is neither Rizzoli nor Isles, you know right away where he stands.  And while I love seeing him in the detective/FBI Agent role, and never get tired of seeing him a suit, I didn't like how on the very first episode of Rizzoli & Isles, he was shown puking his guts out at a crime scene (supposedly his first).  I feel like there's this push to soften and tenderize Black men onscreen, but I may just be crazy.

Leonard Roberts

Leonard Roberts is a god.

He has a mesmerizing gaze and a powerful, rumbling voice.  He strikes me as the type of man who can simply look at you, say your name one time, and before you even realize it, you're taking off your clothes.

Roberts puts me in the mind of actor Russell Wong; when Roberts plays a villain, he's a magnificent villain.  He oozes animal magnetism, making you want to root for his side, not matter what it's up to.  And when he plays a hero, he's the sweetest, most angelic of all heroes, and you find yourself willing to lay down next to him, or lay down your life for him...or both.

I'm about to watch him in the horror film Red Sands, but I already know it won't even remotely due this deity justice.  I have a half a mind to chuck it from my Netflix cue and just sigh into a vodka tonic.

J. August Richards

Like many of you, I was introduced to Jaime (HIGH-may) Augusto Richards III via Joss Whedon's Angel.  I didn't pay much attention at first because I didn't like his characterization.  I didn't like that the first regular Black cast member of a Whedon show was "the ignorant street scum", as he's referred to once in Season 5.  I also believed he belonged with Cordelia, not Fred...among other things.

But I digress.  In Season 5, Richards's character was transformed into a brilliant, polished lawyer, and all of a sudden, he seemed shiny and new to me.  After Angel was wrongfully canceled, Richards took the role of another lawyer in a Law & Order incarnation which was also canceled, and swiftly.  Since then, I haven't seen much of him, and Lord do I miss him.

Edi Gathegi

Okay...every time I turn around, I seem to see this man in something somewhere, whether he's betraying Kal Penn on House or getting killed in a Twilight film (*retch*) or getting killed in X-Men: First Class, or betraying his dad on Nikita, or getting killed in...do you see where I'm going with this?

I need to stop seeing this exquisite, delicately handsome actor get killed.  It's not good for the soul.  I need him to be the star of his own film.  I need to see him in the arms of a beautiful woman of color, like Jurnee Smollet, or Kristy Wu, or even Tiffany Hines (they did have chemistry after all on Nikita), and I need to not see him play a back-stabbing jerk.

The thing which worries me about Gathegi is that I'm afraid he's one of those POC actors who really wants that fame and fortune, so much that he won't look too closely at the roles he's offered.  I feel he's got everything rationalized upstairs to keep him from turning down those paychecks.

What about you, bar patrons?  Who are some Black men you'd like to see more of?

Comments

  1. Girl! Leonard Motherfucking Roberts!!!! That man could get it on sight!!! I turn into a faucet whenever I see him on screen...claude hammercy!

    Lee Thompson Young is adorable, and Rizzoli's sidekick. I watched R&I for the first season...needless to say, I ain't watchin' no' mo. They could do A LOT MORE with Young's role, but that would be too much like right.

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  2. Peter Mensah, Peter Mensah and Peter Mensah. I'm bitter over Doctore's portrayal in Spartacus. He is just too magnificent for the small minds of film/tv. Too Black, Too Strong, Too Complex, Too Intelligent & Too Fine. He's up there with Avery Brooks for me.

    As far as I'm concerned, there can NEVER/EVER be enough of this man for me. Whenever I see him I just stare like a gaping ass school girl. Sigh.

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  3. I like Anthony Mackie from the Adjustment Bureau. I think the rapper-turned-actor line has been churning out better people as I feel that Common, Mos Def, and Ludacris are all pretty decent (though Luda tends to play the same type of people). Damon Wayans Jr. seems to have picked up some chops from his family, and not the Shawn and Marlon side.

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  4. Three words:

    Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

    He's so horribly underrated and has never been given a time to shine other than Oz. Yes, I know he was Mr. Echo on Lost, but he was killed off before his character could barely develop. All because he was falsely accused of drunken misconduct off set (unlike the two other actresses, who were killed off for actually getting drunk).

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  5. Awwwwww Girl.

    Now you know we gots to talk.

    Lee Thompson Young.

    This was my top choice right here.

    And he was also one of my dreamcasting for Noah:

    http://dennisupkins.com/2011/06/17/the-players-of-hollowstone/

    I’ve been a fan of his for years for the reasons you cited and the The Famous Jett Jackson has a special place in my heart.

    The Famous Jett Jackson was one of the first times I ever watched a show where a black teen like myself at the time was handled with the same care and respect that's usually reserved for white characters. Like the Vanishing Son movies, it taught me that I don't have to be relegated to the sidekick but I could be the leading man.

    Leonard Roberts

    You’re not lying about Roberts playing a masterful villain. I first noticed that trait about him when he played Forrest during season four of Buffy. The less said about the Heroes Fail, the better.

    (cont...)

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  6. August Richards

    Gunn was one of my favorite characters and it’s interesting because I had a different take on him. I followed his character closely and also read interviews because I always wanted to know where they were going to go with him.

    “I also believe he belonged with Cordelia, not Fred..”

    It’s funny you mention that because in a magazine article I read, they mentioned that they were toying with the idea of hooking Cordy up with Gunn. In fact I think they were testing the waters in the ep where she helps him find his truck. In magazine they mentioned that Cordy was getting a love interest but they couldn’t decide whether her beau was going to have “bullet” or “bite.” I thought it was interesting that Gunn ended up with Gwen making her a second potential love interest that was shared with Angel. I was actually a fan of Gunn and Fred initially and thought they were the most adorable couple (and I also woke up at night in a cold sweat because cute couples suffer badly in the Whedonverse) but when Fred began two-timing with Wesley, I got sick of her and Wesley real quick and when she died before she and Wesley could become official, I thought that was sweet delicious karma. And I found it hilarious that Ilyria also found Gunn attractive.

    One thing I read in Angel Magazine was that they actually were considering Gunn to be white but were reading black and Latino actors as well. The character was supposed to be from the street to bring a level of pragmatism to the privileged middle class white team. When Richards read, he blew everyone away and just killed it.

    I’ll admit that the writers often missed the mark with Gunn and Whedon acknowledged this in an interview. He stated he realized that Gunn wasn’t getting the development he deserved and that Gunn was a heavy hitter and more than the sidekick. And Whedon’s right.

    Wolfram and Hart didn’t want Gunn because he became a supersmart lawyer. As Whedon explained, they wanted him because he was another major player like Angel or Holtz. And if you think about it, it makes sense.

    This guy survived on the streets in one of the toughest cities in the world. Not only that but he raised and protected his kid sister and formed his own crew. He trained himself and pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. He has no powers like Angel, Cordy, Connor, or Spike. He’s got no formal training like Wesley. He’s self taught and self-made.

    He was a natural leader but because he was surrounded by white folks who often dismissed him as the “muscle,” he eventually began to buy into it.

    In fact, Gwen even called Gunn out on it in an ep when she stated, “They (Angel and co.) really got you tricked.” She pointed out how he was more than the “muscle” and reminded him of why he was such a badass.

    I think in later seasons they actually explored that aspect of Gunn but he needed more focus in earlier seasons as well.

    Oh and interesting tidbit. I met Andy Hallett (he played Lorne) years back at Dragon Con and he was telling some stories about what happened on the set. With Whedon having a distinctive dialogue, no actor was allowed to ever deviate from the script or adlib. However because the writers while talented were all white, Richards was the only one who was allowed to give feedback in regards to what Gunn would say and how he would phrase it.


    Also for those of you who are wondering, Angel season 6, which is canon as it was co written by Whedon, GUNN SURVIVED YA’LL. THE NEGRO SURVIVED!!!!!!

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  7. However because the writers while talented were all white

    And why didn't Whedon just get more writers of color?

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  8. "And why didn't Whedon just get more writers of color?"

    Remember this was the WB: White Broadcasting for white peepul.

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  9. I get what they were trying to do with Gunn, but it could have been done another way. Gunn could've been a high school student or a college kid, much like a Slayer, just without the powers. He could still have been self-taught. he still could have run his own crew. Contrary to popular belief, he didn't need to be dirt poor, uneducated, and homeless to possess the qualities he did, or to have the difficult experiences he went through.

    The white lens on the Black experience/heritage/mindset strikes again, and no amount of Richards's rephrasing was enough - for me - to correct the problem at the source.

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  10. I love me some Wesley Jonathan. He has done television and a few films but he can act his cute little but off.

    I also adore Marcus Chong who played "Tank" in the Matrix and I believe Huey P Newton in that 90's black panther film.

    Elijah Kelly: He was Seaweed in Harispray, and he's playing Sammie Davis Junior in an upcoming Biopic!

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  11. Lee Thompson Young could get it. Like, yesterday.

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  12. Another thing - I don't like the portrayal of Black men on Nikita, (or CW for that matter). There's definitely an emasculating pattern going on. Black men on Nikita either hapless, incompetent African presidents who are good-natured but need "help" from America - in one form or another - otherwise they can't succeed on their own. Gee...that doesn't at all sound familiar?

    And if they're not helpess Africans, they're helpless Americans who are either jailed or murdered because they were set up to take the fall for something or other. You know...honorable Negroes and all that, but conveniently sexless and out of the way.

    Tsk tsk.

    This is what I mean about "the push". There's this desperate rush to remind women of all skintones to revere the white guy and prefer him over all men of color.

    I mean, look at what happened to Peter Mensah's character on friggin' Spartacus, a.k.a. the Idealized White Boy's Parade.

    RIP Doctore's dignity.

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  13. I know that he's better known in Tyler Perry's pictures and maybe he may not be as underrated as I see him,but I like Lamman Rucker.

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  14. Tristan Winger (Darius Baby-Voice from ABG).

    The more I see him interviews, the deeper in love I fall.

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