Who's Black And Who Ain't? What Defines A Black Actor?
Photo Credit: S & A

Who's Black And Who Ain't? What Defines A Black Actor?

Let’s see if I can start some deviltry here. It’s been a while. But yesterday Tambay posted a item about Vin Diesel’s next project The Machine. Now the funny thing is that I saw the same item when it was announced and it didn’t even occur to me to post it on S & A.

The reason why I guess is because I have to admit that I don’t look at Vin Diesel as being a black actor. I don’t know exactly why. It’s no secret that he’s bi-racial (though he tries hard to avoid revealing that). Perhaps because of his racially ambiguous looks, or maybe because of the parts he’s played in movies, seeming to be mainly New Yawk Italian “Guido” parts. I get the feeling that any minute he’ll start spouting off about “dem moulinyans” when he’s in fact half “moulinyan” himself.

However I don’t feel the same about Dwayne Johnson. He’s bi-racial as well of course, and he hasn’t played definitively black characters in his films. Yet I consider him a black actor. Why is that? Because he doesn’t seem to be running from his racial identify? Because so many black women think he’s sexy – unlike Diesel? Because he’s been in a Tyler Perry movie and soon to appear in another one? Because he has a black name? I mean how many white guys do you know with the name Dwayne?

I have the same conflicts about Rashida Jones. Yeah I know, I know. A lot of people think she’s all that and a bag of chips, and her touch alone can heal the sick, make the blind to see, and the lame to walk; but I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Though I haven’t, as yet, considered her a black actress and she does have a “black name” for sure. Is it because of her racially vague “is-she-or-isn’t-she” looks, or because of the mainly non-ethnic parts that she’s played so far?

What defines a black actor? Is it their looks, the parts they play, both or something else altogether? What do you say?