What have been the keys to success for these five black actors?


There are demands that come along with being in the public eye. The weight of celebrity is often dismissed because of the glitz associated with the lifestyle, but there are a wealth of potential mine fields to navigate. Everyone's perspective is different, obviously. But these five black actors offered their take on how they approach their careers, handle stardom and address hot-button issues under the glare of the public eye.

Craig Robinson (This Is the End, Brooklyn Nine-Nine): "In Hollywood, you’ve got to grow a thick skin,” he says. “There were times when I just knew I had the audition. I auditioned for this movie and at the end of the audition the director held my hand in the air and said ‘The winner is!’ After that—I never heard from them again. I was like ‘Dang. Welcome to Hollywood.’ The movie didn’t get made, but I’d heard ‘They’re looking at Chris Rock for that.’ I was like ‘No! They can’t be! I’m the winner!’ Wait till everything is signed on the dotted line and wait until the check is cashed. Then you can celebrate.”

Laz Alonso (The Mysteries of LauraWhy Did I Get Married?): "The people that you see in pictures on Instagram and Twitter, the majority of those people I’ve had in my life since before my career. They don’t see me as an actor. They see me as a friend. These are people that I consider mentors or confidants or friends or business associates. They’ve been with me through my ups and downs and many different facets of my life. New people are going to see you from the lens they meet you in. And the new people I meet, I try my best to have a very discerning mindset regarding who’s who. You get fooled sometimes but that usually comes to light fairly quickly. But for the most part, I’ve found that I can keep my life normal as long as I keep my circle of friends true from Day One. My Day Ones are always with me."

Romany Malco (Think Like A Man, Top Five): "I just want to help people get out of this indoctrination. I want them to get off of this hamster wheel. Acting gives me the opportunity to speak to kids, give my perspective and maybe they’ll say ‘Damn, he just changed my whole game.’ That’s why it’s worth it to me. They could tell me to be a stand-in all day, if I get to do that I’ll be that stand-in."

Anthony Mackie (Ant-Man, Black Or White): "We’re all bred and raised a certain way. We’ve all had certain b.s. put into us. The question we have to ask ourselves: are we going to take the homophobia, racism and sexism that we’ve been taught and we’ve learned—are we going to pass that on to our children? Or are we going to let that become extinct and let our children grow up and paint their own slate instead of imposing our views on them?"

Michael Ealy (About Last Night, The Perfect Guy) : "I thought that when I got married and as soon as I had a kid, I was going to take fewer chances. I thought I was going to be like ‘I gotta get this check. I got a wife. I got a kid, I’m gonna get this steady paycheck.’ But ironically, I’ve been more creative since my son was born and I’ve been taking bigger chances since my son was born. I’m approaching my career in ‘bet big or go home’ [way.] And I want him and my wife to be proud of the choices I make and approaches I take to my career. I want them to see my chocies as fearless now. That’s where I am. In ten years, it might be different. In five years, it might be a different story. I might go back to wanting to get the check! [laughs] But right now, when my son is old enough, I want him to be proud of the choices his dad made."

Tyler Perry, Mara Brock Akil: Hollywood forces to be reckoned with

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Hollywood is not the exclusive club that it once was. This can be credited to the talents and good business sense that a variety of cultures bring to the table. To appeal to a multicultural audience,  programming must reflect the changing demographics. African American actors, writers, directors and producers have proven their unlimited capabilities and value in a number of mediums in Hollywood, and to some extent – you could say that we’ve taken over.

A quick look at the top-rated television shows and highest grossing movies will uncover the valuable contributions that blacks are making on an ongoing and consistent basis. Love them or hate them, who hasn’t chuckled at the antics of Madea, a Tyler Perry creation? Perry, who rose from homelessness to the Hollywood success, has produced a series of movies around the rambunctious and outspoken character - that he, himself actually plays. Though his work has often been the subject of dispute among people of color – whose opinions run the gamut from buffoonery to comic genius – Perry has not slowed down, and neither have his box-office takes.

The beautiful Mara Brock Akil is another prolific black talent in the movies and television production arena. Mara boasts of several highly-rated television shows to her credit as a producer; she was a creator and producer for the hit TV shows "Girlfriends" and "The Game," working alongside Kelsey Grammer. Mara started her career as a writer for the Fox series "South Central." She later wrote for "Moesha," the popular show starring singer Brandy. Later, she would become a supervising producer and writer for ‘The Jamie Foxx Show." –mark anderson