Access Blog: Shaun Robinson On The Vanity Fair Cover Controversy

Vanity Fair drew some fire this week for its “New Hollywood” issue cover – a portrait without any young women of color. Where was Zoe Saldana, of “Avatar” and “Star Trek?” Or Gabourey Sidibe, the Oscar-nominated actress from “Precious?” While the magazine released a statement saying that decision was “a long process” dependent on “schedules and availability,” the cover shot is just part of a larger issue.

I wrote a book on girls and self-esteem and what I keep hearing again and again is that young women want to see variety. This year, we’re going to see our most diverse Oscars red carpet in years. We should see that respected on television and in our magazine covers.

The sad part is that we are only talking about two young black actresses, Zoe and Gabourey. If the criteria to be considered for the cover of Vanity Fair is the actresses must have a body of work behind them – then the question is, where are all the mainstream roles for the terrific and qualified young actresses – black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian? Where are they?

Maybe what we want Vanity Fair to do is not to follow Hollywood’s lead but to take the lead in changing attitudes and celebrate the many diverse and talented actresses out there. Because a picture is worth a thousand words.

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