the help (spencer & davis)

Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in 'The Help'

*Since “The Help” emerged from off the pages of a book and won the hearts of thousands of Americans nationwide, the Black community has taken a trip down painful memory lane.

And with the movie winning many awards, some are reminded of the racial barriers in the industry since Viola Davis didn’t go home with the best actress Oscar.

Besides Octavia Spencer, she would have been the second black winner of the honor for the film, but Meryl Streep took home the gold on Sunday night.

“Oohhhhhhhnnnnnnooooooooooooooo,” wailed Robinne Lee on Twitter.

Lee (pictured below), a black actress who has appeared in films such as “Seven Pounds” and “Hotel for Dogs,” said in an AP article, by Jesse Washington,  that Streep embodies excellence and deserved to win.

“But Viola had so much hype this year, and there was so much excitement, and it conjured up so much controversy in the black community about this role. So (the loss) was disappointing.”

Still, the actress, like so many are plagued with mixed feelings, desiring more films with diverse casts with more prominent roles.

But the reality of the Oscars hovers over the excitement for Viola and other actresses who have won serious acclaim.

Prior to Sunday, only 13 black actors had won Hollywood’s highest honor in the Oscars’ 84-year history. Only Halle Berry had been chosen best actress, for playing a wounded soul who finds solace in the arms of a white man in “Monster’s Ball.”

In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Oscar, for a supporting role as a maid called Mammy in the Dixie-glorifying “Gone With the Wind.” Since then, a high percentage of black Oscar nominees and winners have played characters such as slaves, African despots, welfare recipients, dysfunctional mothers, drug-addicted musicians or drug-dealing cops.

With Spencer’s award, maid roles are responsible for two of the six Oscars won by black actresses. Streep, meanwhile, earned the third Oscar of her transcendent career for playing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Which made Lee wonder: “How inspiring would it be if we could be nominated in roles where we are playing kings, queens, politicians, writers, artists, dancers . we could soar.”

The debate over “The Help” made Hollywood’s racial issues a recurring theme of Oscar night.

During a skit about what actors were thinking, host Billy Crystal imagined this for Davis: “I want to thank my writer and director for creating the role of a strong black woman that wasn’t played by Tyler Perry.” He also quipped: “When I came out of ‘The Help’ I wanted to hug the first black woman that I saw, which from Beverly Hills is a 45-minute drive.”

Lee also commented, “How inspiring would it be if we could be nominated in roles where we are playing kings, queens, politicians, writers, artists, dancers. We could soar.”

Read/learn more at Yahoo News.

robinne lee

Robinne Lee