This past Sunday Oprah hosted several leading African American actresses for a conversation on OWN. There are a variety of clips available but I found this one from Viola Davis very interesting. Here's what she says: (Paraphrased a bit)
We're in a crisis mode as black actresses. Not only in the number of roles that are offered but the quality of roles. And therein lies the problem -- we're in deprivation mode.
When you only have two or three categories for black actresses...it's a natural instinct that if you throw a piece of cheese in a room full of rats that they are going to claw at each other, it's natural. At what point do we stop stepping on each other?
So basically, there are no parts and the women have to fight for the crumbs that are thrown out. Double sigh.