If Hollywood is serious about crafting a new generation of Black male movie stars, then they will have to craft star vehicles that don’t depend on skin color and aren’t about Blackness and/or historically-relevant Black lives or socially-relevant racial struggles.
This isn’t just about casting young Black actors in major supporting roles in would-be blockbusters like Fantastic Four (Michael B. Jordan) or Star Wars Episode VII (John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o), although that’s a big deal and shouldn’t be discounted. It’s about John Boyega potentially getting the same break-out opportunities off of Star Wars Episode VII as Chris Hemsworth got from Thor. It will mean that David Oyelowo won’t just get to star in biopics about Martin Luther King, Jr. but also gritty crime capers or romantic comedies or action films as the main hero or the main villain. It means that Chadwick Boseman shouldn’t just be in the running for Walt Disney/Marvel’s theoretical Black Panther but also to play the Joker if Warner Bros. (Time Warner Inc.) decides to use said character again in their new DC Cinematic Universe. It means that Elijah Kelley breaking out in Hairspray should at least put him in the running for the same roles pursued by Zac Efron post-Hairspray.