Let us start by saying Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o are absolutely stunning! Their flawless chocolate skin never fails to slay the screen and every magazine cover shoot. While we admire the ladies beauty and their fashions, Hollywood has historically been late to the party.
An Emmy and Oscar Award win later, Viola and Lupita have more than earned their spot on the cover of Vanity Fair’s annual “Hollywood Issue”. While the cover is stunning and all 13 ladies, including Gugu Mbatha-Raw look amazing on the front of the glossy, the inside is a different story.
Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz shot individual photos of each woman with the goal of having them look less glamorous and more natural. While the white actresses look regal, like porcelain; Lupita and Viola’s photos were clearly not shot in the same regard.
A debate has ensued on social media as to why Lupita and Viola were made to look, for a lack of a better term, ‘harsh’, and completely makeup free in dark lighting. Meanwhile, their white colleagues including Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett and Alicia Vikander had sculpted, high fashion portraits.
With a very archaic ‘blonde hair-blue eyes’ standard of beauty that’s still adhered to in the mainstream media, both ladies have shared their struggles to be regarded for their looks. Viola made headlines when New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley the had to nerve to call her “less classically beautiful” and express his surprise related to her seductiveness in “How To Get Away With Murder”.
Before Lupita was harrowed as one of the world’s ‘Most Beautiful People’, she shared her struggles with being dark skin. She’s since gone on to break barriers for women of color with natural hair. She’s literally graced every major magazine cover from Vogue to ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Marie Claire and many more.
If Vanity Fair didn’t have any black actresses on the cover, they would have been seen as racist, similar to The Hollywood Reporter’s cover of “The Great Eight” which infamously didn’t include any women of color in their issue dedicated to actresses that they deemed worthy of being included in the running for awards season.
Seeing the contrasting photos of Viola and Lupita in Vanity Fair feels almost disrespectful, like tokenism. It’s like, ‘we had to include you to cover our butts but we won’t let you look as good as the white girls.’
While it’s refreshing to see two of our favorite actresses stripped down and uninhibited, we love seeing Viola’s character take off her wig and her makeup on ‘How To Get Away With Murder’; Vanity Fair and Leibovitz’s attempt at ‘natural’ looked dramatically different in black and white.
Beauties, do you think Viola and Lupita’s photos were intentionally made to look less glamorous than the white actresses?