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Where Are Hollywood’s Young Black Actors?

The Oscars had a much-acknowledged race problem at this year's ceremony, but for some observers, the paucity of nominations for black performers was only matched by the lack of black actors presenting awards. "It's obvious there's not ONE Black male actor in Hollywood that's able to read a teleprompter, or that's 'hip enuf,' for the new academy demographic!" Samuel L. Jackson wrote to the Los Angeles Times. "In the Hollywood I saw tonite, I don't exist nor does Denzel, Eddie, Will, Jamie, or even a young comer like Anthony Mackie!" In fact, the situation for black male actors may be even more dire than that: Will Smith hasn't been onscreen since 2008's Seven Pounds, and as Jackson, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman age (and Forest Whitaker and Terrence Howard flee to TV), there are few black stars being groomed to replace them. The promising Mackie hasn't had nearly the same opportunities as his Hurt Locker co-star Jeremy Renner — his most high-profile credit since that 2009 film was the third lead in this weekend's The Adjustment Bureau — and while Idris Elba was almost handed the Alex Cross franchise, studio suits gave it to Tyler Perry instead. Are there potential superstars out there whom Hollywood hasn't yet noticed, or does the current obsession with lily-white superhero movies and revisionist fairy tales mean that there simply isn't any work available for black leading men? [24 Frames/LAT]

Photo: Universal Pictures