Black Women's Empowerment

What Tony Goldwyn means for Black women

No, I am not talking about his breath-snatching, deliciously passionate scenes with Kerry Washington as President Fitzgerald Grant on the TV show, Scandal. Instead, I am referring to his work as a director and producer, as well as his lineage from one of Hollywood’s most prestigious families, which continues to sharply shape the film industry today. Tony was recently interviewed by Tavis Smiley, who has a program on PBS. In response to being asked for his thoughts on diversity and inclusion in Hollywood as a white male, given his family’s roots in showbiz, Tony responded:

“…I think about it constantly. I think about it in my work as a producer and a director. It’s a theme I’ve been interested and wanted to be involved – I’ve wanted to make a movie; I’ve been looking for a story that was a biracial love affair or a love story for a long time.

I find racial politics are fascinating in our country, and admiring women like Shonda and Kerry, who are real trailblazers, I feel very fortunate to now be a part of a show that – it’s shocking to me that it’s been, what, 30 years since there’s been an African American as the protagonist in a network hour drama…So yes, I’ve just done a show that I created. We’ll see if it goes to series, but a pilot for the AMC network with an African American lead actor. The themes of that show get into racial politics, it’s about social justice and about the criminal justice system, but it sort of centers on an African American protagonist and the power structure of white America and Black America…


After Tavis and Tony discuss the Goldwyn legacy, he asks Tony if he wants to keep directing.

Tony: “Yeah, I love it. I love it. I love it, yeah, yeah, yeah, I did – it’s a little tough right now with “Scandal,” because it’s such a big commitment. As I mentioned before, I co-created and directed a pilot for AMC this year, and if that show ends up going forward I’ll be involved in directing when I can.

A movie takes about a year and a half to do, so I think as long as “Scandal” is running I won’t be able to direct another movie. The last movie I did was called “Conviction,” which was in 2010, with Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell. So I’m sad that I won’t be able to – but meanwhile, I’m working on scripts and looking, so whenever “Scandal” finishes its run, I’ll get more into the directing. So right now I’m just grateful to be doing as much acting as I’m doing.”

Finally, Tavis asks about projects on the horizon, besides the AMC pilot.

Tony: “Yeah, I’ve got a few television projects that I’m developing that we’re pitching to networks to hopefully set up another pilot, because that works out scheduling-wise for me when I can do that, but those are all in the development phase.”

So what do we take away from Tony Goldwyn’s interview? A white man from an uber-powerful Hollywood family admires trailblazing black women + wants to see more diversity/inclusiveness in film/on TV + has already demonstrated a commitment to telling diverse stories + continues to look for new material. In short, Tony represents what could be considered an ALLY, for one of BWE’s key goals: raising the collective image of Black women. Obviously not directly, but one of his personal commitments happens to intersect with something several Black women are concerned about – our collective media image.

While it’s great to recognize this, let’s not just talk about it, let’s be about it!

1) Those of us who have talents that can benefit BWE, let 2013 be the year we use them! Barriers are falling left and right (see this post) and people are noticing us in a positive way. Let’s take advantage of this.

2) Along the same lines, let’s work to identify other allies who could be aligned with BWE goals (perhaps indirectly). Lots of people in power are aging and looking to pass the torch to the next generation. Many value competence and character over race. Everyone should examine their networks closely for potential opportunities. Do you have a Tony Goldwyn (in your network)?

Entire interview and transcript here.

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