The lack of diversity in film and television has long been a problem in the African American community. It’s bad not only for the talented actors who are dismissed because of their skin tone, but also for young black boys and girls who grow up only seeing white faces and for entertainment in general. Diversity is always a good thing, never a bad one. Our films should reflect the diversity of the audiences watching them. For that reason, here are 5 actors and actresses who have would be great in leading roles for feature films.
1. Michael Che
No clue if he’s interested in a film career at all. However, after watching him first on The Daily Show as a correspondent, and then as host of SNL’s Weekend Update, I really hope he is. He’s got that sarcastic wit, eyebrow raising skepticism, and world weariness that would make for a compelling comedy drama role, the same way SNL alum Kristin Wiig has managed.
2. Adepero Oduye
This girl can act. Watch Pariah. Don’t even look up her name, just go and order the movie from Amazon. Her work is funny and inspired. More recently she’s had roles in The Big Short and the all -black TV version of Steel Magnolias. She has leading lady talent though, and studios are starting to recognize that.
3. John Boyega
Ok, so he may have been a lead in Star Wars, and in a lot of ways he’s already an established Hollywood talent. But starring in this franchise isn’t a straight ticket to leading man roles. Just ask Mark Hamill, the man who played Luke Skywalker. His career took a turn for the ugly after his Star Wars peak.
Boyega is more than just the Star Wars franchise though. An English actor, Boyega first started turning heads years ago with his role in the Brit flick Attack the Block, a sci fi comedy about a street gang that has to fight off an alien invasion. He’s good. Expect him to get some leading man looks in the near future.
4. Teyonah Paris
Easily the most underrated person on this list. She hasn’t quite reached the heights of others on this list, but I love her potential. She was Dawn Chambers in Mad Men for a few seasons and starred in the indie hit Dear White People as an aspiring reality TV star, a la Kenya Moore. Take these two roles I just mentioned. Both vastly different characters, and yet similar in how they explore the shame, isolation, and straight up awkwardness of being a black woman discomforted by the white world she inhabits. No actress that I know of can better document the black consciousness in her acting. Quietly brilliant.
5. Michael K. Williams
It’s not a mistake. You recognize him. Maybe you don’t know the name, but any fans of The Wire, Oz, Boardwalk Empire, Community, or even Battlefield 4 will know the man with the long scar. Michael K. Williams has carved out a wonderful niche as a supporting actor that he, and of course viewers, are perfectly happy with. If he ever had higher ambitions though, it’d be hard to imagine whatever he’s in not being awesome. Williams brings an intensity, pain, and nostalgia with each role. Sure he’s tough and scary. But whenever you see him act, you wonder…how did he get that scar? He is the definition of leading man material.
What do you think? Anybody I left out? Feel free to comment below!
By the way, it was a bar fight. That’s how he got the scar. But wasn’t it cooler not knowing?