Exception – TV Role.Back then, she was a child actress.She proved to be a formidable force -- a rarity, really -- a female, child actress whose portrayal of Niki in Holiday Heart (2000) was tender and intelligent. I loved the then-child in the role of Niki.Reynolds acted with a quiet restraint and an adult maturity while simultaneously portraying a child-like fragile innocence.It was refreshing.
You always wonder why you never see more of these people.Is it because she is doing other things with her life or is it because the offerings for a teenaged or twenty-something black actress are few and far between?
Unfortunately, all they do with talented black, female, teenaged performers is pop their boobs out, sparsely dress ‘em, ghetto ‘em down, glam ‘em up and turn them into music business hoochie-whores.Nobody cares about a gifted young actor.No.Not true.If and when they do care about them, it is only so they might place them in dumb, simple-minded, asinine films -– usually romantic comedies, teenage urban flix or foolish fluff.
I want to see more of this young actress.I think she’s 18 now.I want her to come back.I read somewhere that she released a CD last year.Maybe she’s turning to a career in the music industry.Maybe she has to.
Are there any decent roles for 18 year old black female teens?I think not. This makes me sad; very, very sad… sad for Jessika Quynn Reynolds... sad for them all.
I weep for them.I do.
With all due respect to Raven Symone, I’m not talking about people like her who do kiddie stuff or fluffy stuff. There’s a place for that. [There must be, since she’s a multimillionaire]. But it’s not what we’re talking about on this post. I never even thought about Raven Symone and this blog but should probably do a post about her someday. Symone, from what I know about her, is doing good –- maybe even great –- things. It’s worth mentioning. Okay. She’s on the list.
I was wondering why I love to watch good dramatic performances by kids.It’s hypnotic when they can move you.They’re extremely interesting to watch.In fact, I may even enjoy watching a good child actor more than a good adult actor.And when I say child, I mean very young, like under 13.
So, I was thinking, “why?”
I think it is awe.Admiration.Appreciation.Gifted child actors are usually extremely intelligent and often possess wisdom beyond their years.That makes them a bit of an anomaly.If you’ve ever seen interviews with very young child actors you will observe immediately, their intellect as manifest by how articulate and well-spoken they are -- their vocabulary.They’ll be like, eight, using the word “significant.”I was –- well, anyway.
What I do hate is a child actor who can’t act.It’s terrible to watch, really.
Um, I’m trying to think of our young child motion picture actors.Are there any?Is there even one?Where’s our Dakota Fanning?I think we don’t have one.Do we?(BTW, Fanning’s days as “child” are numbered.I think she’s around 14, now).
I’m not counting annoying kids who show up in comedies for the purpose of (i) being nuisances, or (ii) who take up space as the requisite placeholder child that a film might need.
I was cleaning the other day. And Are We There Yet? (or one of those Ice Cube flicks) was on. I wasn’t paying attention to the movie but I heard bits and pieces of it. But there was a child, some annoying little girl, some sassy-kid-hussy from hell… I don’t know what she looked like or what was going on in the story. I just knew I wanted to throw her out of an 89th floor window or smash her skull against the wall, breaking it into 4,769 teensy pieces.
Instead, I’m talking about -– do I dare say –- kids who have significant screen time in dramatic roles, someone like Jurnee Smollett, one of our child actresses of yesteryear.
Is Will Smith’s son, nine year-old Jaden Smith, our black motion picture child actor to be reckoned with?Not today.Among other things, Jaden Smith does not yet have a body of work.
Shout out to all the talented, black, motion picture child actors out there; we know you exist.And some of you are working.But there are so few opportunities.This is because the grownups have made it so.
Our kids… with great potential and talent… who are not seeing opportunities…
I weep for them.
(The photo above: Ten year-old Tatum O'Neal - who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1973 - 34 years ago!)