By Charlene B. Regester
9 actresses, from Madame Sul-Te-Wan in start of a country (1915) to Ethel Waters in Member of the marriage (1952), are profiled in African American Actresses. Charlene Regester poses questions on triumphing racial politics, on-screen and off-screen identities, and black stardom and white stardom. She unearths how those ladies fought for his or her roles in addition to what they compromised (or did not compromise). Regester repositions those actresses to spotlight their contributions to cinema within the first half the 20 th century, taking an educated theoretical, ancient, and demanding procedure. (2011)
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Additional resources for African American actresses: the struggle for visibility, 1900-1960
He correctly assumes that his confession will result in his picture being printed in the newspaper and his friends will see it and know that he is still alive. His friends do recognize him and he is rescued from the labor camp. Although in this film Sul-Te-Wan’s character’s association with prison life is not a direct one, it is still enough to perpetuate a link between the black actress and the immoral. Invisibility in the M ainstream Print M edia Ralph Ellison sees African Americans as decentered and marginalized by virtue of their relegation to the invisible.
87 From this perspective, the mainstream media worked in tandem with Hollywood to render Sul-Te-Wan invisible. Victimized by the then-prevailing Hollywood racial politics—and the politics that reverberated in the racially divided America in that period—Sul-Te-Wan automatically was positioned as invisible in that she was omitted from film credits and reviews. While her roles were often minimal and secondary and therefore might not have warranted inclusion, it was her race and sexuality that also caused her to be unmentioned in mainstream press reviews.
But I got three little boys, and I need work—I 22â•… · â•… a f r i c a n a m e r i c a n a c t r e s s e s need work bad. ”20 Perhaps the press was reflecting its own biases regarding Griffith, whom they disliked for his racially provocative The Birth of a Nation and for what they believed was his limited vision of African Americans as purely servile and dangerous. Whichever version is accurate, Sul-Te-Wan’s appearance, which was undoubtedly eccentric, was not offensive to Griffith. In response to her request for employment, he immediately hired her—at first as a maid to the white actresses employed with the Fine Arts studios, including Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Bessie Love, Mildred Harris, Pauline Starke, and Alma Rubens.
African American actresses: the struggle for visibility, 1900-1960 by Charlene B. Regester