Ruben Santiago-Hudson

 

Please take heed Village

 
We as a people of color have been terribly divided and labeled by outside forces and though we clearly have cultural specificities in each of our origins that must be honored, we also have a common thread that runs through our veins.

We have to be wise in choosing our roles. Some figures are so visually etched in people’s minds that it may be detrimental to look so different from that person and play that role and others you have to dig deep to find an image of.

The best Martin Luther King Jr that I have ever seen was Jeffrey Wright. Is there a more visible and document man than MLK Jr? Rare thing happened there but it damn sure happened.

I have seen actors who are spitting images of a historical figure and fall short of the essence, power, and bounty, of the figure they are reaching for and I have seen the opposite.

I am a Black/Latino man and equally proud of each of those parts of my heritage. There is Africa in my DNA as well as Taino. I agree, there are certain roles I would never attempt to take on if I feel I would damage the sanctity of the character, but hell yeah, I’ll play every role my heart and soul, and skill level can honor. Will I play Jack Johnson – nope. But Ira Aldridge – Hell yeah.

Be smart, be humble, be loving. Be careful about self-inflicted wounds, my people.

Carry on. Much love and respect.

 

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DALE SHIELDS

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