At the 2013 Essence Magazine Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon this February, Gabrielle Union received the Fierce and Fearless Award. Her acceptance speech is remarkable. (It starts at about 1:03 of 11:32.)
“We live in a town that rewards pretending and I have been pretending to be fierce and fearless for a very long time. I was a victim masquerading as a survivor. I stayed when I should have run. I was quiet when I should have spoken up, and I turned a blind eye to injustice instead of having the courage to stand up for what’s right…
“Being fearless is simply doing the work. It’s doing the work that it takes to recognize you no longer want to function in dysfunction and misery and that you would actually like to be happy and not just say you’re happy.” —Gabrielle Union
This AFI clip of Dustin Huffman discussing his process with the character Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie has made the rounds today. He began with the question, “How would you be different if you’d been born a woman?” and asked his make-up team to help make him “beautiful.”
“I said [to my wife] ‘I have to make this picture.’ And she said ‘Why?’ I said ‘Because I think I’m an interesting woman when I look at myself onscreen. And I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill, physically, the demands that we’re brought up to think that women have to have in order for us to ask them out… There’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I’ve have been brainwashed.’ [Tootsie] was never a comedy for me.” —Dustin Hoffman
Hoffman’s comments about wanting to “pass” as a woman and avoid double-takes when walking down the street made me uncomfortable, but I’m glad he had the insights he did. What if we lived in a world where our social categories didn’t make anyone vulnerable to street harassment, and where “beauty” wasn’t so restrictive that it made “interesting” people invisible?