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Rockmond Dunbar Doesn't Believe In Black Hollywood And Says..."I Hate Seperatism"

by Cynthia Reid
September 30, 2011 8:42 AM
23 Comments
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Seems actor Rockmond Dunbar had a lot to get off his chest regarding the term "black Hollywood" recently in his interview with The Urban Daily. The California native, who currently appears on Sons Anarchy, had this to say when asked... "What are your feelings on Black Hollywood and White Hollywood not embracing black actors?"

"There’s a really awkward answer for that. Just recently I posted on Facebook, “There is no Black Hollywood!” After my 25 years of doing research and studying, I cannot find the CEO. I can’t find the president and there are no board members. There isn’t even a public service number I can call to get help as a black producer, actor, director. There is no Black Hollywood and I hate separatism. Let’s just cancel out the term “Black Hollywood.” We should just call them Hollywood actors and watch their films because they’re great, not because they’re black.
Some of my actor friends and I were talking about this and I was the only one who spoke from a place of honest hurt. I was hurt because I’ve played a prolific father of three and a devoted husband on the longest running drama. I’ve played a black heart surgeon on Heartland. I’ve played so many different characters that my career is diverse. But on Soul Food, it was our third NAACP nomination. I was walking the red carpet and a guy waved me over for an interview and asked, “How do you feel about being snubbed for the third year in a row?” I said, “What are you talking about? We’re nominated as a cast.” He said, “Yeah, the cast is nominated, but you are the only one who hasn’t been nominated in an individual acting category.” That question devastated me for years. It burned a little bit. Idris Elba was on the show and he said, “Man, I get nominated by NAACP for playing a drug dealer and you play a father and haven’t been nominated.” Gary Dourdan said the same thing. He thought I was going to get nominated and I didn’t.

So when you talk about White Hollywood accepting us, White Hollywood has accepted me. I have been on a number of shows where I have been the only black character. Sons of Anarchy is in its fourth season and didn’t have a main black character for the first three. You rarely see me in Jet Magazine, Ebony, and Essence. You rarely see me in black publications, but I’m a Goodwill Ambassador with diplomatic status for West Africa. So this whole notion of Black Hollywood existing, I haven’t felt it. Maybe I need to cut a rap album or something. [laughs]

I'm not quite sure how to take this. He seems to be annoyed by the term but somehow still wants to be "validated" by the black community. Hmm...

What do you say?

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23 Comments

  • troy | November 2, 2011 12:28 PMReply

    First of all he needs to come out to his wife, haha!
    Secondly his role on SOA has him manipulating a multiracial Son based on the gangs policy of not allowing black members. Hispanics okay black not okay. Being that is really the only storyline he is connected with so far, I find it funny that he hates separatism. His and many other black appearances in non-diverse tv shows/films all predicate on separatism. That's also the why the black person dies at the beginning of horror films. If you don't like them you cheer as they die, if your hopes are that this big black buck will keep everyone safe the reverse/twist is what you get. Virtue and not ability will save the day. We just don't have the virtue of a hero.

  • urbanautuer | October 5, 2011 5:17 AMReply

    Maybe, Bro.Isiah should administer a gangsta-alchemist-smack down! on this Zebrahead. and i wonder, has he ever slum at Gov.rick perry's niggahead lodge?

  • kele | October 3, 2011 11:37 AMReply

    @ Fred, it couldn't have been said any better.

    Dunbar is a good actor, not great and he sure needs to look within.

  • brandi | October 2, 2011 3:25 AMReply

    Is he seriously complaining about not being nominated for a show that's been off the air for 7 years?

  • misha | October 1, 2011 9:35 AMReply

    Aww poor Rockmond. Somebody give this man an award so he can quite crying!

  • Micah | October 1, 2011 6:41 AMReply

    The question, post and referenced article should have us once again defining what exactly Black Hollywood is. Does it actually exist? Does being a black filmmaker automatically make you a part of it?

    I'm kind of at a loss on how one would define it. Do we actually have our own film industry? Is Black Hollywood just the collections of black filmmakers and media who work in regular hollywood even if they don't form an actual community?

    I partially agree with Bondgirl on not always tackling the issue of race in interviews. It can be a tricky subject to navigate. It's important have very thoughtful and eloquent answers. You want to make your point but never sound whiny.

  • theyounglion | October 1, 2011 6:27 AMReply

    @illthoughts pretty much hit upon my first reaction to Dunbar's comments: Uh, maybe his acting wasn't good enough to get nominated.

    But then, it got me to thinking about the NAACP Image Award. Is that particular award supposed to be about acting skills, or is it supposed to be about the images an actor puts out there in the role he/she plays? If it's the latter, then he may have a point.

    I do get tired of hearing some black folks saying "I/he/she" should get nominated for such and such award JUST BECAUSE, as if the award is an entitlement. (The best example of that is people's approach to Tyler Perry.) "He should get nominated for this award because his films have made so much money." Or "He should get nominated for this award because such and such is his best film to date and he's improved so much." As if that means anything. So it kind of sounds like Dunbar is saying that. "I should've been nominated because I was on 'Soul Food' for so long and I played a positive character." As I said above, if the award is supposed to be about acting skills, then not necessarily.

    As for black media paying attention to him, I wonder who his reps are (particularly his publicists), how prominent they are, and how much they've pushed him to Jet, Ebony, Essence, etc. A lot of actors seem to think that those publications will just automatically find them and do stories about them once they reach a certain level of success. And I know a lot of magazines make it look that way: i.e. "We want to showcase an actor that we here at Essence just love!" But that's mostly just journalistic spin to make writing about someone sound like something more than a business decision. It really comes down to reps/publicists pushing and leveraging to get their clients mention, story inches, photos, and of course the cover.

    One of the interesting things about Denzel Washington's and Whoopi Golberg's and Halle Berry's success is not just those actors themselves, but the people they had working behind the scenes on their behalf to push them into superstardom. Denzel had one of the best agents in town, Ed Limato, who was known for taking talented actors and making them A-list. Limato was relentless, and as great as Denzel is, he would not have the career he has without Limato. Same with Halle and her manager Vincent Cirrincione. He's been with her since her early years, and he was relentless in making her an A-lister. That is often (usually?) the difference between a Denzel/Halle-level career and a Dunbar-level career.

    I'm not saying Dunbar doesn't have a point. Maybe, just maybe, he is being shut out of being nominated for NAACP awards, and shut out of black publications. Or maybe the answer is just the simplest one: not an award-worthy actor, needs new reps.

  • Fred | October 1, 2011 5:35 AMReply

    with all due respect to to Dunbar but he is NOT an A List Star.

    yes he's been in a few movies and has been on tv but what movie has he acted in that has gone mainstream and by mainstream I mean watched by ALL people? ZERO!

    A List actors like Denzel;Halle and Jamie have done crappy movies since winning the Oscars yet they are still recognize for being A List actors

    Denzel Washington and Halle Berry have produced their own movies and hired African Americans yet they get NO credit within the African American much less White Hollywood

    Denzel produced:
    The Book of Eli
    Antwone Fisher
    Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks
    Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream

    he directed :
    The Great Debaters

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000243/

    Halle produced:
    Frankie & Alice
    Lackawanna Blues
    Introducing Dorothy Dandridge

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000932/#Producer

    Whoopy's list is too long for me to even try so I'll post this link

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000155/#Producer


    Jamie Foxx's list too is here:
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004937/#Producer


    the truth is Dunbar is a good actor;not great but good.The reason why Dunbar does not get recognition is Hollywood or the black media is because he honestly hasn't done anything of value worth mentioning

    if the likes of OSCAR WINNERS Whoopy Goldberg; Denzel Washington; Halle Berry and Jamie Foxx complain about being overlooked in Hollywood when they go read for a role that is ultimately given to the same damn white actors:
    Colin Firth
    Helen Mirren,
    Johnny Depp
    Ryan Goseling
    Michelle Williams
    Nicole Kidman
    Angelina Jolie
    Jake Gyllenhal
    Colin Farrell;
    Reese Witherspoon
    Jennifer Anniston
    Cameron Diaz
    Megan Fox
    Katherine Heigl
    Johnny Depp and have to produce movies with $ out of their own damn pockets even if they are known what makes Dunbar think he'll get calls from Hollywood?

    Hollywood does NOT take Perry seriously that's why Precious got shut out!

    Hollywood takes Lee Daniels seriously because he produced Halle Berry's Oscar Winning movie "Monster's Ball"

    Spike Lee is taken seriously because he makes movies that have serious matter and he has serious A List actors in them from
    Driving Miss Daisy
    Malcolm X
    Jungle Fever

    to name a few

    Mr Dunbar should consider FIRING his manager;agent and whomever is working with him and representing him and try to venture out and do Independent movies and QUIT working with Tyler Perry.

  • Gigi Young | October 1, 2011 4:40 AMReply

    @Carey

    LOL....you are so right because the moment I saw "Rockmond Dunbar," I seriously got a picture of Charles Dutton--whose name I forgot--in my head. I couldn't even remember where I saw Dunbar until you mentioned he played a wimpy husband (The Family That Preys).

  • jacetoon | October 1, 2011 3:09 AMReply

    You must replace the picture before the cut with his playgirl spread.

  • CareyCarey | October 1, 2011 1:30 AMReply

    "Here it comes…..... :-O" ~ Jug

    Stop it Jug :-O...... but yeah, didn't we just have a lengthy conversation on of similar nature? :-0

    But maybe somebody can help me out. See, I'm hurting up in here. Well, I know when my back goes out I can call a chiropractors, and when my feet feel like they’re going to fail me, I can call a podiatrists, but what about the “stink-eye” and the “knee-jerk”, who can I call to ease that pain?

    I mean, when I read Cynthia’s opening, I gave her the big side-eye-stink-eye. NO.... not the eye that stinks, the eye that winks. Anyway (for those that don’t have their mind in the gutter) I said to myself, “Cynthia is sho-nuff trying to start some mess up in here”, but then I read Mr. Rochmond “looking for the Hollywood GoodBar” Dunbar’s opening words....

    “Let’s just cancel out the term “Black Hollywood.” We should just call them Hollywood actors and watch their films because they’re great, not because they’re black”

    Okay... my knee jerked. I said, “Yeah, that makes perfect sense”. But ooooh lord, when I read a little further I felt like that possessed child, Regan, in the 1973 film The Exorcist. Maaaaan, Rock Mon’ had my head twisted like I just dropped 4 Ecstasy pills. I’ve never taken Ecstasy, but he had me f’ed up.

    Well, when I tried to get off the floor, I soon realized I was acting like a little white chick, Lil’ Linda Blair, so I knew nobody was going to rescue an old black dude crying like a bi*ch. So I found the courage to twist my neck back around, pop my knee back into it’s proper position, and then I laid there and started hollering like a funky fat sissy... “I've fawlin' and I can't get up!..."

    Nobody came, so I just got my silly drama-queen ass off the floor and changed my underwear... which I had slightly soiled during all the confusion. Gaining my composure, I drank a cup of reheated coffee (money is tight) and continued reading.

    In short, if my memory serves me well, Mr. Dunbar has always been a DUD-BAR of an actor. I mean, my first image of the dude is him playing the part of a wimpy husband? He may have more in his bag of tricks (resume) but I ain’t seen it. And don’t take this wrong, I always thought he was understudying for Charles S. Dutton’s corniest roles. I mean, I loved some of Mr. Dutton performances (“Get On The Bus” comes to mind and he was a perfect fit in “Honeydripper“) but er’body knows Charlie can go waaay over the top, and quiet be kept, Dunbar kind of looks like him. But look, all I am trying to say is, I think I understand what Rockmond Dunbar was trying to say, but he should fall on his knees -- RIGHT NOW -- and thank God that he is a black man who is working. The boy is blessed, and I am not talking acting wise. And based on his words, I don’t believe he knows it.

  • eshowman, the cranky TV fan | September 30, 2011 12:46 PMReply

    Dunbar sounds like a whining baby. He was in plenty of black shows when no white producer or director would touch him and now because he is a secondary player in a show about white rednecks, he is tap dancing with joy! .Black film and TV production is sad, but it put food on his table for years, so he needs to check himself. Instead of whining why don't you work on creating a better environment?

  • ttenth | September 30, 2011 12:04 PMReply

    Is this about Black Hollywood or about a lack of recognition via awards, magazine profiles, blog posts?

  • Ghost | September 30, 2011 12:01 PMReply

    Black magazines got to sell to their demographic audience .
    _________________________________

    Really? So that is why Hilary Duff, J-Lo's behind, Justin Biever and so many WHITE singers and stars get more coverage in black magazines than black ones?

    We had black magazines REHASH stories about folks for years-I mean I didn't know there were 48 ways to say Omarion liked something. Yet a magazine did that.

    It doesn't take much to do 1-2 page stories on folks.

    So is this the excuse we are going to hear when Red Tails comes out? Because HALF the cast doesn't appeal to Pookie, Ray Ray, Brenda and Laquita?

    Because how many times can you put Tyler Perry, TI, Drake, Soulja Boyu, Weezy and Chris Brown on the cover and REHASH stuff before someone says enough.

  • BondGirl | September 30, 2011 11:55 AMReply

    " After my 25 years of doing research and studying, I cannot find the CEO. I can’t find the president and there are no board members. There isn’t even a public service number I can call to get help as a black producer, actor, director."

    Huh? What the hell are you talking about Rockmond?

    Actors need to stop giving interviews on race. Just say, "Next question." Plain and simple. LOL

    Seriously, I don't know what to think. I feel his pain. He probably went through hell and back getting blacks in Hollywood to help him get "Pastor Brown" made. So he's still scarred from that experience, coupled with his lackluster career, and non-existent coverage in black magazines. Gotta hurt. On the other hand, what he says reminds me of Morgan Freeman's comments years ago about there shouldn't be a Black History Month. He's annoyed with Blacks in Hollywood because they've ignored him...so he has a fuck you, I don't needya attitude. And personally I can't fault him. Though I do fault him for falling into the stereotypical casting trap with having the milky female lead and chocolate male lead in Pastor Brown.

    I saw him in The Family that Preys, but I hardly hear about any project he's on. Maybe he has the same mgmt- PR team as Taraji. lol

  • JMac | September 30, 2011 11:41 AMReply

    Okay so he's sort of pulling a Janet Hubert: Black media didn't pay any attention to me. Same question that was asked of her is applicable here, did you contact black media to make them aware? I get what he's saying and not going to ride him on it as I've done other actors. Everybody wants awards and attention. When you get none from your own people, it hurts more than a white snub. He doesn't hate "separatism," he's just bitter and took a FU position. Whether it's a reasonable bitterness or not, I don't know. I can't remember any of his characters.

    A bad thing about being the token black is if lots of black people don't watch the show (and you're not advertised as a major star/co-star), you're not going to be as recognized whether your work is better than other black actors or not. I only knew about Aisha Tyler from watching Talk Soup. Had no idea she was an actress until Ghost Whisperer - and I only watched that show to help me fall asleep. [I never watched Friends.]

    If you're doing good things, blow your own horn. We don't have ESP.

  • LeonRaymond Mitchell | September 30, 2011 11:30 AMReply

    I know what's he talking about, I get zero support or acceptance from Black film community but the Latino Community has embraced me 100% I do films /projects with a Latino Cast and White Cast and have strong creative freedom, The Black Community is more like a giant confused group who only judge you if they know you where's the Latino and White community go by talent and what was your last Play or film regardless. acceptance by the Black community is not at all tangible cause they never stick together to put anything forward except who they know

  • Orville | September 30, 2011 10:20 AMReply

    Rockmond Dunbar makes some good points however, I have never seen in a big leading man role on television or in the movies. Dunbar was on Soul Food and then on Prison Break BUT he was never the male lead only in a supportive role. Perhaps, the reason the black media ignore Dunbar is because he never gotten a role that was a huge breakthrough. Why should black magazines focus on Dunbar when he hasn't done anything to merit receiving attention? Black magazines got to sell to their demographic audience too and I bet there are black people that have never heard of this guy. Rockmond Dunbar is not a star, I know his fans don't agree but that's my opinion.

  • Emmanuel | September 30, 2011 9:57 AMReply

    I feel where he's coming from. And if some would only take a minute to re-read his statement, and think about what he's saying, they might understand, too.

    There's only one Hollywood, but there are various facets of the entertaiment industry. You can be a staple of the entertainment industry, but never really "make it" in Hollywood. And many black actors who don't "make it", tend to think that just because they've been in a few films, or have done some TV shows, that they are the "black side" of Hollywood. However, there are white actors that we see in film/TV projects all the time, but they, too, haven't officially "made it". What do we call them?

    Think about some of the black actors who have "made it"-- Denzel, Halle, Will, Poitier, Cheadle, Tyler; they're successful, but also realize that they're still black actors, and may not get as many chances as their white counterparts.

    But on the other hand, they've got status and clout, and they know they've "made it". And if you try to approach them like some D-Lister, you're likely to get the Varnel Hill treatment. THAT'S Hollywood.

    I wouldn't put Rockmond Dunbar on their level, but at least he knows what level he'd like to be on, and aspires to get there-- as opposed to just being satisfied with being a "member" of so-called "black Hollywood".

  • @illthoughts | September 30, 2011 9:32 AMReply

    Not trying to be disrespectful but Dunbar is not that great an actor. Idris saying he gets nominated for playing a drug dealer and Dunbar not because he's playing a father of three is a bit misleading. The fact is Idris Elba is a damn good actor and Dunbar is just average. As far as black media is concern then he might have somewhat of a point.

  • L.A. Proper | September 30, 2011 9:31 AMReply

    There is no black Hollywood! Tyler Perry is a lone entity and although many black actors will work with him because it's good business, from a creative standpoint they have to feel like sell outs.

    Instead there should be an ethnic Hollywood. Works by black filmmakers that feature actors of African, Latino, Asian and European descent. We are more powerful as a group than divided. On that note, check out "L.A. Proper", the award-winning comedy from black filmmaker Barry Canty.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzpR7-HQZ78

  • bkt | September 30, 2011 9:02 AMReply

    I believe that Rockmond Dunbar hit many key points with being accepted by the so called mainstream Black media publications. The problem is if you portray anything positive media will not pick up on it. Also, I believe a mass majority of people do not have an idea what is a good film or show. These sheep wait to be told what they should watch, read if they can, and to do. The sad part is there are so many sheep walking around in society it very disheartening especially being
    a sheep herder /dog. The thing with popular Black publication is if you want to look at pictures and not read its great waste you money. The same follows with the majority of horrible movies that are in the theater.

  • Jug | September 30, 2011 8:44 AMReply

    Here it comes........ :-O

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