Do Black Actors Still Not Get The Recognition They Deserve?

Did you know that Eddie Murphy had a brother? I say had as Charlie Murphy died in 2017. Unfortunately, Charlie Murphy was not as well known as his brother. But, that did not make him less of a talent. Charlie Murphy was best known for his contribution to the Chapelle’s Show and Black Jesus. Many in the business say that Charlie was more talented than his brother in a more sort of quiet way.  

The life of Charlie Murphy highlights one of the factors that still seem to plague the movie and entertain industry. No matter what we do, it would appear that Black actors and comedians such as Charlie Murphy have to work twice as hard to achieve fame and a decent earning capacity. Most Black actors in the world are still typecast. They always appear to end up in roles fitting what is often referred to as the “ Black norm”.  

Struggling Black Actors and Talent 

It is widely recignised that Black actors and entertainers struggle to find their place in the entertainment industry and especially as actors. Did you know that there are more Black singers and musicians than there are Black actors both in the United Kingdom and the United States? Yet, just as many colored people train to become actors and stage thespians. Breaking the mold is not easy to do. As a Black actor, you are often cast as a police officer, villain or bodyguard.  

Why do you so seldom see Black actors in other prominent roles? Looking at what is coming out of the United States, it soon becomes clear that much of what is still being written and produced in the US does not feature Black talent. It makes you wonder why such a popular TV series such as the Big Bang Theory does not feature any Black actors? Sure, there is an Indian actor and a Jewish actor, but where is the Black guy?  

When Are We Going To See A Black James Bond?  

All of this makes me wonder when we are going to see a Black James Bond? In 2019 there was a lot of talk about Idris Elba replacing Daniel Craig as James Bond. The formate of James Bond is once again beginning to look a bit stale. Sure, it has moved on from the days of tongue and cheek performances from Roger Moore, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. Many argue that a quantum shift is indeed needed to make the fantastically successful franchise reach new audiences.  

Personally I could just see Idris Elba stepping out of an Aston Martin. That would cause a real stir, wouldn’t it? Sadly, I do think that it would take that kind of paradigm shift for things to change in the movie industry. If a major movie franchise introduced changes, I am pretty confident that other changes would soon follow. Are we likely to see a Black James Bond? Who knows, but there is certainly an appetite for a major change within the movie industry.  

Are Black Actors Paid Less?  

Salaries of Black actors also fall behind the salaries of their white counterparts. On many occasions, unless you are a big name such as Eddie Murphy or Will Smith, you will find yourself struggling to find your big earnings opportunity. Most Black actors still find themselves struggling to find salaries which match their talent. Taking a look at salaries in the movie industry, and you will often find that many Black actors are often paid far less than their white colleagues. Is there a reason for this? 

Could it be that many Black actors should change their management? Will Smith always said that it is important to be represented by the right manager. During his career, he has often encouraged other Black actors to make sure that they have professional representation. He has even gone as far as to say that he would not have achieved the same level of fame if it was not for his manager.  

How Black Actors Can Succeed? 

Many managers encourage Black actors to be as versatile as possible. Ideally, they would like the Black talent on their books to sing, dance and act. Of course, the careers of Charlie Murphy and Will Smith have gone on to prove that they may be right. Charlie Murphy was not only a good actor, he also had a singing talent. If he had been promoted in the same way as Will Smith, there is no reason why he could not have gone on to achieve the same level of stardom. 

But, looking at the actors who have won major awards such as Oscars or Baftas, you will notice that many of them do not push all of their talents out there. Most of them are very career-focused and only focus on one talent. In most cases that one talent is acting. Actors who have tried to spread themselves too thin on the ground, often disappear and before we know it, we don’t hear of them again.  

Finding Work As A Black Actor 

As the career of Charlie Murphy goes to prove. Black actors are more popular in television dramas. Charlie did make some movies in the 80s and 90s, but most of his success came from his television appearances. This is probably true of most Black actors no matter if they are based in the UK or US. As a Black actor, you are much more likely to find work in television. Fortunately, American TV networks are beginning to cast more and more Black actors in leading roles.  

Not only was Charlie Murphy a very talented actor. Most of us don’t know that Charlie was also a writer. He often wrote episodes for American television series. Some of his most popular contributions to this genre include the Chapelle show. If you have not watched any episodes of the show yet, you should certainly try to do so. Outtakes of the Chapelle’s show are available on Youtube, but you can source the entire series online.  

Famous Black Actors 

Are there more Black actors coming through? Despite the risk of being typecast, more young Black talent is coming through the system. In recent years, the industry has had a bit of a shakeup and young people are being encouraged to become actors. However, this is a slow process. Much of the young Black talent we see coming through the industry does not take the traditional route.  Instead of coming through traditional acting schools, much of the Black talent which is joining the industry joins through a network of youth clubs. Often they are spotted in clubs and then helped along the way by experienced managers or talent scouts.  

Acting Is One Thing – What About The Other Creative Arts? 

Of course, acting is one thing. There is also a lack of Black representation within other forms of art. Many Black painters are often left behind as there is very little help for them. Charlie Murphy seemed to have had a genuine interest in promoting ALL Black talent that he came across. Perhaps much more so than his brother Eddie Murphy who seems to have gone for the big bucks and more popular side of acting. 

Taking a closer look at the life of Charlie Murphy, it is easy to see that this was a man who believed that Black talent, no matter what form it took, should be promoted and encouraged.  This is a process that has been going on for some time. Today, there are very few voices that speak for Black talent in the UK or the Us. The exception seems to be Oprah Winfrey who often uses one of her many platforms to introduce new Black talent onto the scene in the US. Her magazine O which is primarily aimed at women does it best to make others aware of the skill sets of Black people living in the US.  

In Conclusion 

It clear there is still some way to go as far as Black acting talent is concerned. Charlie Murphy had the potential to be a real shining light in the industry. Unfortunately his life was cut short. It makes you realise how true the statement “ so little time” really is when you stop and think about it. 

If it was not for a friend who works for a London escorts agency, I would never had heard about Charlie Murphy. Apparently, London escorts appreciate Charlie slightly cheeky and fun sense of humor and still watch the Chapelle’s show. It makes you wonder what talent is hidden up and down the UK. Perhaps Black London escorts should take a look among their ranks and see if they have any budding actors or screen writers among their ranks. After all, it seems that many London escorts go on to achieve some fantastic things for themselves. As the song goes, they have doctors, lawyers, and politcians too… It is really amazing what we all can achieve.