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African American Actresses


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Black women and Hollywood in the pre-Civil Rights era

Table of Contents


1. Madame Sul-Te-Wan: The Struggle for Visibility
2. Nina Mae McKinney: Early Success and Tumultuous Career
3. Louise Beavers: Negotiating Racial Difference
4. Fredi Washington: The Masquerades and the Masks
5. Hattie McDaniel: Centering the Margin
6. Lena Horne: Actress and Activist
7. Hazel Scott: Resistance to Othering
8. Ethel Waters: Personification of Otherness
9. Dorothy Dandridge: Intertwining the Reel and the Real


About the Author

Charlene Regester is Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She is co-editor of the Oscar Micheaux Society Newsletter and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Film and Video.


"Locating the actresses' lives and careers in the nexus of sexuality, demeaning roles, rampant discrimination, segregation, stereotyping, the white male gaze, and white appropriation of black actresses' identities, Regester intricately outlines a discourse of black stardom. [...]A major tribute to nine talented black actresses and their complicated negotiations with white mainstream entertainment industry before Civil Rights, African American Actresses is an invaluable asset for students of ethnicity and race in Hollywood. Not only does Regester bring the early twentieth century American racial scene alive by detailing the politics that informed choices and roles of African American women actors, she also contributes richly to studies of stardom as refracted by the socio-cultural and political status of black people and women in America." - Scope, February 2014

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