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Watch Diana Ross' Shining Moment as an Actress in Dramatic Telepic 'Out of Darkness'

by Sergio
July 2, 2014 4:54 PM
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Since I seem to be on a sort of nostalgia kick lately, let me add one more to the mix, and in light of conversations we've had on this blog about the dearth of movies that tackle mental illness in the black community (partly spurred on by recent films like Jono Oliver's powerful "Home" which stars Gbenga Akinnagbe, and even Halle Berry's "Frankie & Alice")...

Now I will admit openly that I have never been a fan of Diana Ross as an actress (so go ahead and shoot me...), but I have to say that there is one thing she’s done that absolutely impressed and convinced me that she had the goods to be a truly wonderful actress (maybe even a great one); I’m talking about the now sadly forgotten 1994 ABC TV movie "Out Of Darkness."

In the film, Ross played a once promising medical student who battles with schizophrenia for almost 20 years. Eventually, after therapy and intense work, she’s seemingly "cured" and starts a new life, even getting involved in a romantic relationship with a new man. Unfortunately, when everything seems to be going great, she falls again into the abyss, losing everything.

Aside from Ross giving a tremendous and truly heartbreaking performance, the other great thing about the film was its unflinching look at mental illness. It also fortunately avoided the typical sappy, Hollywood happy ending. By the end of the film, Ross’ symptoms have disappeared, for the time being, but the boyfriend, who'd left, never returns, and she’s forced to learn that she has to live her life day-by-day, and be grateful for any "normalcy" she's able to experience.

The film was heralded as a superb work, and though it promised a comeback for Ross to acting, that unfortunately didn’t materialize. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a TV Movie at the 52nd Golden Globe Awards in 1995.

The movie was released overseas on DVD, but not in the US (and it doesn't appear to have ever been released in the US), so most of you probably haven't seen it. But you're in luck, because the entire film was uploaded to YouTube "for educational purposes" as the uploader states, so you really ought to take the time to see it. It’s Diana’s shining moment.

Watch the 90-minute film below:

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  • cap1956 | July 4, 2014 8:38 AMReply

    Totally agree with Sergio's assessment of "OUT OF DARKNESS" and Ms. Ross's powerful, raw, shattering, gut-wrenching performance. This film is just as timely today, and it proves, along with "LADY SINGS THE BLUES", what a gifted actress Diana Ross is. IMO, she should have won the Golden Globe for this performance. It's criminal that this excellent film, which could help so many people, has not been released on DVD in the states---and that Ms. Ross's talents as an actress have been so underrated and under-utilized. Diana Ross's performance in this film is definitely one of MANY "shining moments" throughout her amazing career.

  • BLACKMAN | July 3, 2014 9:41 PMReply

    Sergio is NOT TOO BRIGHT. Close to incompetent. And should NOT be on this blog writing about people of whom he knows nothing about their body of work.

    Diana Ross got CHEATED out of the Oscar in "lady Sings the Blues"


  • WHITEMAN | July 3, 2014 10:44 PM

    Your bitch of a mother is NOT TOO BRIGHT. Go smoke something kid.

  • lauren | July 3, 2014 10:43 AMReply

    She was amazing in this!

  • Luis Boki | July 3, 2014 9:46 AMReply

    You are certainly entitled to your own opinion about Diana's acting abilities. However, if you liked her in "Out of Darkness", then her performance in "Lady Sings the Blues" is essential viewing as well. Save for "The Wiz", that was poorly cast since the Judy Garland portrayal is indelibly imprinted on most our brains....Diana was actually using the "annotated Wizard of Oz" which is not age specific for the role of Dorothy. But know one was going to accept that one. She was nominated for a Saturn Award (Best Fantasy, Sci-Fi films) for "The Wiz".
    You are definitely in the minority on the assessment of her acting because most film aficionados view the fact that she didn't make more movies as a lost to the American cinema. She won the Cesar (French Oscar) for "Mahogany" and obviously won the Golden Globe nomination and newcomer award for both "Lady Sings the Blues" and "Out of Darkness". And her portrayal of Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, etc. in her first television special was critically acclaimed.
    So I won't shoot you (smile), but, ask you to reevaluate some of her limited performances. I somehow sense that it was "The Wiz" that you found most disappointing. As big a fan as I am, it was hard for me to accept that performance too, until I saw the Blu-ray Disc released a couple of years.

  • Ol'Skool | July 3, 2014 1:46 PM

    " [Sergio] you are definitely in the minority on the assessment of her acting because most film aficionados view the fact that she didn't make more movies as a lost to the American cinema"

    Opps... I read that wrong. Now I agree Luis, Sergio's view of Ms Ross might be a little skewed. Disregard my following comment.

  • Ol' Skool | July 3, 2014 1:28 PM

    "most film aficionados view the fact that she didn't make more movies as a lost to the American cinema"

    ...and who might that "most" be? Let me guess... ahh... well... since this is a blog which focuses on POC, I believe it's safe to say you're not referring to that community? Come on Luis, surely you know black actresses are rarely given their just do in America. Added to that, Diana Ross first made her name as a singer, so quite naturally there will always be those who will marginalize her accomplishments as an actress. And remember, she did receive a few nods from major awards, so somebody ( maybe not the people you hang with) thought she was an outstanding actress.

  • Ol' Skool | July 2, 2014 8:51 PMReply

    WARNING! Don't read Sergio's entire post... if you don't like being told the whole damn movie :-(

    Sergio rides again! He has opened his crusty vault to highlight another jewel from the past, in which most have not seen. Hat tipped in your direction Mr. Sims.

    That said, once again I agree with S&A's most controversial writer/critic, this is Diana Ross's most shining moment ( although I have a special love for The Wiz and Lady Sings The Blues).

    There is one thing I wish Sergio would have kept close to his vest. Well, I saw the film about 6 months ago (on Youtube btw) and many of the twists and anticipated moments have been given away in his review. 2 things for example. Throughout the movie one does not know how her love life will play out, leaving one to anticipate (and maybe root for) an ever lasting love. So, to a degree, Sergio has spoiled many of the endings.

    To that point, yes, it's true, this film does not have a sappy happy ending (As Sergio noted, she does not fully recover from her demons), but shouldn't we have been allowed to hope for the best?

    In short, in spite of Sergio dropping spoilers without warning, this film, nevertheless, in my not so humble opinion, is compelling drama that I am sure serious film lovers will enjoy.

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