2021 awards committees may still struggle to recognize black excellence (we’re looking at you, Hollywood Foreign Press Association)get some black limbs Y give Michaela Coel her flowers!), but this year, Vanity Fair does not disappoint. Building on its increasingly diverse and highly anticipated annual covers, this year features the most black talent, including Michael B. Jordan, Zendaya, Spike Lee, Maya Rudolph, Lakeith Stanfield and our dear Michaela Coel, who all join Charlize Theron, Sacha Baron Cohen, Awkwafina and Dan Levy. So is; just three of the 10 talents featured on this year’s fantastic Technicolor cover, photographed by concept artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, are not in color, making this perhaps Vanity Fair’s blackest Hollywood issue to date.
It is worth celebrating; after all, just a decade ago, the magazine featured only one (!) black actor, Anthony Mackie, within its traditional triple deck, sadly indicative of an old trend of tokenism in the magazine. For 2012, we were asking “Who needs Vanity Fair?” as only two black actresses, Paula Patton and Adepero Oduye appeared in a 1920s-inspired painting of a white lily, which made the writer Helena Andrews note:
[S]Ince its first Hollywood issue in 1995 when Angela Bassett appeared on the back panel (along with Sarah Jessica Parker and Sandra Bullock), Vanity Fair has turned its attention to just 21 actors of color, including America Ferrera, Salma Hayek, and Lucy Liu. And no non-white actor has appeared on the “power panel.” That is a problem. An omnipresent one, in fact. But it doesn’t seem like something “we” can necessarily fix unless more dark faces show up at Vanity Fair’s editorial board meetings.
The 2013 edition there was no improvement, but in 2014, the magazine was apparently listening, as black talents made up half of its cover stars. Poor me, for 2015, they were up to their old tricks, with only David Oyelowo keeping us down, but in 2016Viola Davis did the elusive “power panel” alongside Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence, with Lupita Nyong’o and Gugu Mbatha-Raw taking their places among the remaining nine actresses. Black actors made up just over a third of the cast on the cover. in 2017, just below in 2018 (which also included outgoing editor-in-chief Graydon Carter, who founded the Hollywood Issue), and again at its cover 2019, which featured perhaps its most diverse cast yet.
In fact, there is another dark side to those editorial meetings: Indian-American Radhika Jones became the magazine’s fifth editor-in-chief at the end of 2017, resulting in a greater diversity of covers and coverages, usually. Maybe not need Vanity Fair, per se, but with not one, but two black stars in the year of the “power panel,” can we clap, though?
The inside of the issue is as colorful and entertaining as its cover, which was safely produced in 10 photo shoots. on four continents, as Jones explains in his editor’s letter, writing:
Turns out, it’s possible to channel the joyous serendipity of a magical photo shoot across seven time zones if you have the right participants in front of and behind the camera. We couldn’t have asked for a more talented and transcendent cast of characters than our cover stars this year, and we’re so grateful to them for joining us on the journey, carrying imaginary rocks and fighting alongside imaginary bears and flying into the atmosphere in gargoyles. and chandeliers … From Sacha to Zendaya, Charlize Theron and Michaela Coel, they have helped push the boundaries of what entertainment can be and the stories it can convey, whether in a theater, on television, or somewhere in between. . This number exists to celebrate Hollywood and measure its evolution …
By evolution, Vanity Fair.