Okay so there’s a lot “buzz” around the upcoming release of “A Mighy Heart” starring Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl, the South Asia Bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal who was beheaded while researching a story on shoe bomber Richard Reid. 

The synopsis of the film goes like this:

On January 23, 2002, Mariane Pearl’s world changed forever.  Her husband Daniel, the South Asia Bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, was researching a story on shoe bomber Richard Reid.  The story drew them to Karachi where a go-between had promised access to an elusive source.  As Danny left for the meeting, he told Mariane he might be late for dinner.  He never returned.

In the face of death, Danny’s spirit of defiance and his unflinching belief in the power of journalism led Mariane to write about his disappearance, the intense effort to find him and his eventual murderer in her memoir A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl. Six months pregnant when the ordeal began, she was carrying a son that Danny hoped to name Adam.  She wrote the book to introduce Adam to the father he would never meet. Transcending religion, race and nationality, Mariane’s courageous desire to rise above the bitterness and hatred that continues to plague this post 9/11 world, serves as the purest expression of the joy of life she and Danny shared.

The night Danny disappeared, Mariane kept vigil with Asra Nomani, an old friend and colleague of Danny’s at the WSJ, living in Karachi.  Both women were seasoned international journalists with formidable investigative skills, but they were also foreign women in a country that had become increasingly volatile since September 11.  By dawn, they knew they were facing a crisis that required strong allies fully briefed on Pakistan’s proliferating terrorist cells, its byzantine bureaucracy and its notorious Inter-Services-Intelligence agency (I.S.I.).

Dozens of local investigators swarmed the house that morning, including a man called Captain, the then head of Pakistan’s brand new counter-terrorism unit. With Asra’s house as headquarters, Captain’s men, along with an American diplomatic security agent, two Journal colleagues and the FBI, dedicated themselves to the search.  After five harrowing weeks, amidst escalating media frenzy, they found the kidnappers.  Among them was the known militant Omar Saeed Sheikh, aka “Bashir,” the go-between who had offered Danny information relating to the shoe bomber story.  Then came the devastating news that Danny had been brutally murdered weeks earlier. 

Mariane and Danny believed that by bearing witness to events and allowing all voices to be heard, truthful journalism could bridge communities in conflict.  Mariane has remained devoted to this principle, refusing to succumb to hate or fear.  After Danny’s death, she went home to her native France to await Adam’s birth.  She and Adam now live in Paris, France.

Sounds good and on the surface and it’s both an intriguing and sad story.

My only problem is that Mariane Pearl is Afro-Cuban and so I am left pondering the question, why not cast a Black, Latino, mixed race, or even an Afro-Cuban actress in the role as Mariane?

It’s very clear and apparent from the photos that I’ve seen that her skin is a bit darkened (brownface?) and she’s done something to her hair to give it that “nappy” or “kinky” effect.  For all I know, it could very well be a wig.

But back to my original question of why?

There are plenty of good actresses in Hollywood that could have easily played that role.  Off the top of my head, I think of Rosie Perez, Jennifer Lopez, and Sophie Okonedo “Hotel Rwanda.”

Mariane Pearl is a French journalist of Afro-Cuban and Dutch ancestry who was raised in Paris, France.  Afro-Cuban and Dutch.

Angelina Jolie, on her father’s side is of Czechoslovakian and German descent and on her mother’s side she is French Canadian and is said to be part "Iroquois."

I know this issue came up recently as well, but slightly differently with the film “Memoirs of a Geisha” which starred Chinese actor’s in traditional Japanese roles.  Many Japanese boycotted the film because of this.

Med_halleberry0610051On the flipside, in the upcoming film based on a true story “Class Act,” Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry, who is biracial, will be playing the role of a white female teacher, Tierney Cahill who runs for Congress.

Published reports quote Cahill, who in reality is married to a Black man and has biracial children, as saying that it was “fantastic!” that Berry was tapped to play her in the film.

I am not taking anything away from any of the actors I mention, but I can’t help but wonder if Hollywood is catering to American audiences that don’t know the real thing and in the process are stepping over minority actors for roles that by virtue of their race and their ability act they would be perfect for.

It’s no secret that Hollywood isn’t beating down the doors of Black and Latino actors and actresses and that goes for both film and television.
And I’ve heard over and over how beautiful Angelina Jolie is and how she’s replaced actress Julia Roberts as America’s Most Beautiful woman, which I for one am not buying.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this beholder doesn’t agree with how the  media is throwing Jolie’s “beauty” down American’s throats.  I’m not saying she’s ugly, but I am saying that she’s not the most beautiful woman in the world. 

No doubt, casting Jolie in the role is sure to make it a box office hit.  But given how socially and politically conscious Jolie is, I would’ve thought she might have been a little bit more sensitive to this issue.

I believe that TVOne’s Access Hollywood is going to address this issue in an upcoming episode and it will be interesting to hear what others in the industry have to say about this trend of casting actors in these types of roles and it’s effects on minority actors.