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Oprah's Black Actress Special w/ Alfre Woodard, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad, Gabrielle Union

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
June 17, 2013 11:10 AM
33 Comments
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Immediately prior to OWN network's broadcast premiere of Bill Duke's and D. Channsin Berry's documentary, Dark Girls, which is set for SundayJune 23rd, at 10pm ET, Oprah will sit down for an in-depth conversation with 4 black actresses: Alfre Woodard, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union


The hour-long episode of Oprah's Next Chapter, will air at 9pm, on June 23rd, and will be immediately followed by Dark Girls.

Look for the iconic actresses to open up about the challenges, criticism and competition they face as African American women in the entertainment industry.

Watch a preview:



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33 Comments

  • lovescarlett2011 | June 22, 2013 1:06 PMReply

    I'm proud of each and everyone of them...Great actor's! And Opera's an awesome role model!! :)) We all are unique, different and beautiful in our own way.

  • TAZ | June 22, 2013 12:01 PMReply

    Please feel free to go to Oprah's website, under Oprah next chapter - and see the link "A special message from Oprah: How She was inspired by Actress Gabrielle Union." That is, if you are truly interested in why Oprah probably selected GU to be a part of this discussion and don't want to lean on gossip and want to have a basis for your own understanding.

    Is that a challenge? Absolutely.

    I pray that it will be of some help to all that listens to the speech.

  • JEFTCG | June 18, 2013 6:27 AMReply

    Oprah's favorite director is Tyler Perry. Nuff said.

  • Katie | June 18, 2013 4:45 AMReply

    Oprah is working that dress! I love the color!

    Anyway, sorry, but I even though I don't GU should be there, she is the only one I can think of that can fit the bill. for her age range. They need a diversity of age I suppose, because it isn't her acting roles or chops.

    I think this is actually a good programming choice by Oprah and I do second the idea that she should do this once a year with iconic and hot actresses of the day. That would be great. Then she could move on to black content producers like Issa Rae and ask them what are they doing to change and own our images.

    Though I still sideeye her because I know she only doing this for ratings and will drop this type of programming like a rock as soon as she gets her white audience like all the others. nonetheless, this I will watch...online.

  • CC | June 18, 2013 10:33 AM

    "Though I still sideeye her because I know she only doing this for ratings and will drop this type of programming like a rock as soon as she gets her white audience like all the others. nonetheless, this I will watch...online"

    Excuse me but I can't let you get away with that preposterous statement.

    Think about it, could Oprah's desire to highlight these wonderfully talented, gifted, beautiful and intelligent women be rooted in her love of her people? Therefore, since she has the resources to share them with the world, that's why she's doing this. Surely you've heard the phrase "The gift is in giving", haven't you?

    Then again, maybe you know something we don't. It's possible (I doubt it) that you're a close friend of Oprah, and thus, she told you she's pimping these women for the money? If not, I am sorry because what you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what's falling from your mouth.

    But then again, I am open for suggestions/feedback, school me, what other producers (programming) have ever reached out to us as Oprah is doing, and has been doing for the last 20 years? Yeah, find that online and come back and holla.

  • Said in Los Angeles | June 17, 2013 11:57 PMReply

    "Oprah will sit down for an in-depth conversation with 4 actresses: Alfre Woodard, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union. "

    We already know that they're Black, why frame it that way? Wait, iconic? Only Phylicia Rashad could be considered 'iconic.'

  • Mark and Darla | June 17, 2013 10:50 PMReply

    Reading Essence and Ebony in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s, every now and then an article would pop up concerning Black Women nasty and vicious attitude toward each other in the work place, church on Sunday, Wednesday Night Bible Study, night club, beauty salon, public transportation and grocery store, the nastiness was localize.
    The internet took it to a whole new level globally, Jonette Watson in Charleston, SC can let the whole world know just how much she hate Donna Jamison in Oakland, CA.
    A black woman in the United States and London can have a long drawn out nasty fight on the internet and probably never meet each other but mentally become enemy.
    Gabrielle was invited as a guess to talk about the plight and struggle of black actresses in Hollywood and this is what she got on the internet from black women on S&A ‘she is not worthy to sit with Viola, Alfre, and Phylicia’.

    They forgot the subject matter of the post, zoom in on Gabrielle and belittling her acting abilities.

    What if Charlize Theron, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence bitch to Barbara Walter that Viola, Alfre and Phylicia shouldn’t sit among them in a conversation because they don’t have an Oscar.

    ‘I think we are going to continue to beat up on her and there is not a damn thing you can do about’.

    Yes we have heard this kind of talk, who and where? Republican Senators and Congressmen on talk shows and Fox News, ‘we are going to continue to beat up on Obama and there is not a damn thing black people can do about it’.

    Reading Essence and Ebony in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s, every now and then an article would pop up concerning Black Women nasty and vicious attitude toward each other in the work place, church on Sunday, Wednesday Night Bible Study, night club, beauty salon, public transportation and grocery store, the nastiness was localize.

    The internet took it to a whole new level globally, Jonette Watson in Charleston, SC can let the whole world know just how much she hate Donna Jamison in Oakland, CA.

    A black woman in the United States and London can have a long drawn out nasty fight on the internet and probably never meet each other but mentally become enemy.
    Gabrielle was invited as a guess to talk about the plight and struggle of black actresses in Hollywood and this is what she got on the internet from black women on S&A ‘she is not worthy to sit with Viola, Alfre, and Phylicia’.

    They forgot the subject matter of the post, zoom in on Gabrielle and belittling her acting abilities.

    What if Charlize Theron, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence bitch to Barbara Walter that Viola, Alfre and Phylicia shouldn’t sit among them in a conversation because they don’t have an Oscar.

    ‘I think we are going to continue to beat up on her and there is not a damn thing you can do about’.

    Yes we have heard this kind of talk, who and where? Republican Senators and Congressmen on talk shows and Fox News, ‘we are going to continue to beat up on Obama and there is not a damn thing black people can do about it’.

  • Vincent Mickens | June 17, 2013 7:59 PMReply

    Gabrielle Union has rightly earned her spot in this interview. And if anyone has seen a GU interview before they would be interested in to what she has to say. Very insightful and witty. GU has shown a range in different roles from Bring it On to Running With Scissors. She might not have theatre background but it's a special about Hollywood Black Actresses so there you go. People are complaining about Union when they should be complaining about Rashad. She's always been a 'one note actress' to me. On and off Broadway. Switch her out with Cicely Tyson and now we have an interview.

  • FactChecker | June 21, 2013 12:52 AM

    GU is a BORE. And doesn't have a strong following AT ALL. The only movie that I liked her in was Bring It On, back when I was in high school. ... And her current claim to fame is dating that baller, Dwayne Wade.

  • Said in Los Angeles | June 17, 2013 11:59 PM

    I agree, forget Rashad as I mentioned earlier, Cicely Tyson should be in..GU isn't their yet...

  • K | June 17, 2013 7:39 PMReply

    She should do it like twice a year and bring on different black actresses each time. And can we talk about how brutal Hollywood is for young black actors? Lawd!

  • TAZ | June 17, 2013 6:10 PMReply

    Although Gabrielle does not have the acting chops as the other ladies, her background/start in Hollywood has its own dramatic story so her voice is as unique as the other three. She is a capable actress and has flipped movies and tv. She is so much more than the fact that she has this new show and her youth, niche, public life and experience will probably highlight somethings that have changed. AND she is know to Oprah, who has interviewed her before so they have a past relationship that can be leveraged. To make this all about one BET show is belittling, for lack of a better word.

    I think Oprah did not get to where she is by interviewing schmucks, lest we forget. This isn't Wendy Williams.

  • jess | June 17, 2013 3:57 PMReply

    When you consider the dearth of serious roles for Gen X and Y African-American women in Hollywood, you can't hate on Gabrielle Union. She became known to audiences after the heyday of the new wave of black films in '90s had passed and decent black TV had just about dried up. She's smart, has been a hustler, and has been able to venture into mainstream projects. Does her career have the same gravitas as those of the A-list she sits beside? No. But she will no doubt do an eloquent job speaking for her generation and discussing the weight of starring in her own upcoming TV dramedy, which is still a rare op for a black female actress.

  • ALM | June 17, 2013 3:52 PMReply

    People are forgetting that Gabrielle has "Being Mary Jane" as a starring vehicle. Whether you agree with the decision or not, things such as current projects play into booking.

    I know that someone is about to say that Beharie has a new show coming on the Fox network, but the name recognition is not there for Beharie. Union has been the business for years. Also, Kerry Washington recently sat down with Oprah for the "Scandal" themed episode.

  • BluTopaz | June 17, 2013 2:25 PMReply

    I don't get it--do Black people always have to find something to kvetch about? So what if Gabrielle does not have a theater background as the other ladies. Gabby has been kinda representing for the pretty Black It Girl for a while now; and she's still an actress working in Hollywood which is what the show is about. I'm not even a fan of hers, and don't get the criticism of her inclusion here. Maybe she is going to talk about wanting more diverse roles from her default romcoms, who knows. Point is, she STAYS working and that is most likely the reason why she was invited to the show. But I will say it would have been interesting if Phylicia's daughter was included to hear from two generations of the same family, since she is doing so well also and is a relative newbie. But I'm guessing the focus is on actresses who have been around a while.

  • BluTopaz | June 17, 2013 4:38 PM

    Speaking of silence, unless you have something interesting to to say you might want to try it.

  • James | June 17, 2013 4:24 PM

    "Do black people always have to find something to kvetch about?" I don't know, you tell us. One person made a comment and three people agreed, is that illegal in your state or something? Try listening to the silence instead of focusing on the noise.

  • CareyCarey | June 17, 2013 1:20 PMReply

    Please folks, don't even go there, don't even try it, don't let a few kneejerks and haters lead you down another non-productive road of beating up another black actress. Listen, I'll tell you were the focus should be.

    As I've said many times, Oprah has given voice to more intelligent and artistic people of color than any person on this earth. The list numbers in the thousands. From black politicians , black authors, black musical geniuses, black business owners, black heads of foreign states, prominent black lawyers, doctors, chief cooks and bottle washers, Oprah has been the driving force in exposing them to the world, which opens a door for more to follow. Oh, and least I forget, did I mention her unmatched effort to highlight the ever- present struggles of the BLACK FEMALE ACTRESS? Not to mention her nearly 1/2 billion dollars she has given to the needy. And the beats go on...

    This broadcast highlights the careers of four black women, Alfre Woodard, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union, each of whom can talk about the challenges, criticism and competition they face as African American women in the entertainment industry. Each of them -- having been in the business for over 20 years -- can speak on the complexities of being in a very demanding business. Those challenges/complexities are increased when race, gender and color are brought into the mix. So please stop with the "she ain't qualified" noise. This is not a popularity or talent contest.

    And speaking of Oprah, she keeps doing it, doing it, and doing it again. Has anyone watched her Master Class Series? I have and I called my daughter to tell her to check it out. They are some of the most wonderful, in-depth, interesting and thought provoking interviews that I've seen on my television. On a particular note, I loved the Lenny Kravitz hour long segment. I didn't know of his torn relationship with his white father. Who knew that not until his father was laying in his death bed, did their relationship "heal"? I didn't know he left home at 15. I didn't know Teena Marie took him under her fold, her wings when he was living on the streets, and thus, became the biggest influence on his life as an artist and a person.

  • FactChecker | June 21, 2013 12:57 AM

    I wish O had chosen Sanna Lathan or Anika Noni Rose to speak to, instead of GU. The former actresses have a much broader range -- and roles in both TV and film -- than GU, whom I place more in the category of Meagan Good or that Sumpter chick or Lisa Raye. They're actresses that don't have the talent and craft to, truly, crossover to regularly working in more mainstream projects.

  • Langston | June 17, 2013 11:57 PM

    Well said CareyCarey. I concur on all points. Thank you. That keeps me from posting a paragraph.

  • CC | June 17, 2013 5:42 PM

    Opps... there's nothing anyone can do to persuade me to develop a lack of "COMPASSION" AND EMPATHY for those who may be wrongfully victimized...

  • CC | June 17, 2013 3:20 PM

    First, hat tip to Blutopaz and her ^above^ comment.

    "I know you [CC] get a woody by defending the underdog but naw, I think we are going to continue to beat up on her and there is not a damn thing you can do about." ~ Mr. Truth

    Well Truth, you're right on all accounts. I can't stop people from being themselves. However, on a similar note, there's nothing anyone can do to persuade me to develop a lack of comparison for those who may be wrongfully victimized. To that point, my voice is a small voice which may inspire others to challenge opinions which may lead some folks down a wrong path.

    On that note, to a large degree (which probably has nothing to do with me) I've noticed more and more visitors (here at S&A) have shown the courage to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinions. In this forum and others of similar interests, many are fighting back, not wrapping their arms around the most ambiguous, mean-spirited and popular opinions.

    So I will continue to say the focus of THIS production should not be on Gabrielle Union, but on the collective voices of ALL the women (including Oprah) who share a combined total of over 150 YEARS in show business.

    And btw, Gabrielle is not the freshman in this group of women.

  • truth | June 17, 2013 1:40 PM

    I know you get a woody by defending the underdog but naw, I think we are going to continue to beat up on her and there is not a damn thing you can do about.

  • Donella | June 17, 2013 12:47 PMReply

    Looks like Oprah's finding her programming groove. That's a good thing for all of us.

  • EP | June 17, 2013 12:29 PMReply

    Awesome topic for the show, but this should have been done 10 years ago, better late than never. I also think there should be follow up shows on this topic to see if the landscape changes for women of color.

  • srb199 | June 17, 2013 11:59 AMReply

    Angela Bassett not available?

  • ScriptTease | June 17, 2013 3:53 PM

    @ Ghost "Buffoon Entertainment Television. LMAO & SMDH at the same damn time. BET has gotten a little better though.

  • Ghost | June 17, 2013 1:49 PM

    What about Octavia Spencer? Erma Hall? Whoopi? Ruby Dee? The Mowery Twins, Debbie Morgan, CC Pounder, Ella Joyce, Khandi Alexander or Pam Grier.
    Any of them would be better than Union. I want to see some old school folks that can offer some more wisdom than her.
    Union is on there because she has s show on Buffoon Entertainment Television. Now if this group was Kerry, Union, Raven and a few recent actresses-I probably wouldn't mind it.

  • Ashley | June 17, 2013 11:53 AMReply

    Three of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE actors of all time!!! Can't. Wait.

  • nadia | June 17, 2013 11:20 AMReply

    One of these actresses doesn't belong with the others. Who could it be? I'll give you a hint. Her initials are GU.

    Seriously, for real? I don't even have anything against her talent, but you've got Alfre, Viola, and Phylicia. You mean to tell me they couldn't get another younger actress that can match those 3 women other than Gabrielle Union? That final slot should've gone to someone up and coming who actually looks like she's on her way to becoming a legendary actress like Alfre, Viola and Phylicia. Where's someone like Nicole Beharie? I'll even take Kerry Washington.

  • Prince | June 17, 2013 1:18 PM

    Yeah, I'm thinking Anika Noni Rose or even Taraji P. Henson would make more sense. At least Anika came from a strong theater background like the other 3.

  • CoCo | June 17, 2013 12:34 PM

    I agree with both of you. Maybe it's a ratings thing and Oprah is trying to reach out to GU's fan base or maybe she is there because of her connection to Tyler Perry? I saw Alfre, Viola, Phylicia and was like, "Yay." Then, when I noticed GU, I was like, "Huh?" No offense to her or her fans because I've only seen one or two things that she has been in and from what I've seen, she does not belong in the same interview with the likes of Phylilcia, Alfre and Viola. I know that sounds mean, but I'm really not trying to be mean and I'm sure she doesn't care, anyway! lol!

  • Kadon | June 17, 2013 11:33 AM

    Totally with you, Nadia. That one threw me.

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