Okay, let’s be honest. It’s hard for us to see our favorite actors and actresses in different roles when we associate them with classics. To my mother, Sanaa Lathan will always be ‘Monica’ the same way Wood Harris will always be ‘Ace’ to me. This list goes on and on because it’s hard for us to accept them in any other light. Just ask Carlton, sorry I mean Alphonso Ribeiro.
Earlier this week during an episode of Love and Hip Hop, they had a scene with Snoop and one of her co-stars from the HBO hit series, The Wire, Michael K. Williams. As soon as he stepped into the frame, I yelled out, “They got Omar on here too?!” SMH. He hasn’t been Omar in close to 10 years but in our hearts, he will always be one of our favorite Baltimore stick-up men.
During the popular “Question Your Answers” segment on The Atlantic, Michael K. Williams asks the question that I’m sure many actors and actresses wonder throughout their career, “am I being typecasted?” Directed by David Shane, the video features Williams as himself and various characters that he’s played over the years-a philosopher, a gangsta, and a smart ass. To get in character, "it was very important to Michael to name these 'sides' of him, and we spent a fair amount of time doing that," said Mr. Shane, the director. “In between some takes, Michael played music through his headphones and it occurred to me -- probably later than it should -- that he was playing tracks for different characters."
On the surface, the actors are discussing the typecasting of cats and poodles but the conversation gets deeper than that when Williams admits he's chosen all these "typical roles". In return, the different versions of himself questions did he really pick any of these roles or did they choose him. Omar, the gangsta, goes on to ask the most important question in the entire video. “Do you think we would be doing what we’re doing if we had a choice? Face it, man, we’re from a certain type of people, that comes from a type of place that looks a type of way. You know what that makes us?” Michael, the smart ass, quickly responds with ‘Black’ but Omar clears it up that he meant ‘typecasted’ but is there really a difference?
Michael goes on to say that he got himself out of the unfortunate dead or jail storyline for black males in America and that's something to be celebrated. Omar finishes the video with the the chilling question, “..you sure about that?”
With the Oscars coming up this weekend, history shows that black actors/actresses usually wins when playing a stereotypical role starting with Hattie McDaniels as ‘Mammy’ back in 1940 to Lupita Nyong’o as a slave in just 2014. We would never take away from their accomplishments but isn’t it time to change this harsh reality? I guess we'll see on Sunday.