For their 16th annual Hollywood Issue, Vanity Fair put the emphasis on "fair" with a cover spread shot by acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz and only included white actresses. The only thing diverse about this cover is the actresses' hair color and their ages, which range from 19 to 27-years old.
'Access Hollywood' host Shaun Robinson, who released a self-esteem and advice book for young women called 'Exactly As I Am' last year, is extremely alarmed by the message that the Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue sends.
"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 Oscar red carpet in years. We should see that reflected on television and on our magazine covers," she said.
Robinson, an Emmy Award winning news anchor, believes that beyond the monthly magazine's monochromatic view of the industry, Hollywood itself has to answer for its lack of diversity.
"The sad part is we're only talking about two young black actresses, Zoe [Saldana of 'Avatar'] and Gabourey [Sidibe of 'Precious']. If the criteria to be considered for the cover of Vanity Fair is that the actresses must have a body of work behind them; then the question is, where are all the mainstream roles for all the terrific and qualified young actresses – Black, Hispanic, Asian and Indian? Where are they? Who otherwise could have been considered? But 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," Robinson declared.
In response to the backlash about their all-white cover feature, the Conde Nast-published glossy that has a noted history of resistance in showcasing African-American celebrities on its cover, issued the following statement: "Deciding who will appear on the Hollywood issue cover – and within the issue itself – is a long process, and one we take seriously. For the young actresses on the cover, both films coming this year and past work were taken into consideration, as were schedules and availability, since we had to shoot all nine actresses in a single day."
On the cover of its 2008 Hollywood Issue, Latino-American actresses Saldana, 31, and America Ferrera ('Ugly Betty'), 25, were both included – though on the inside gatefold and not the front cover.
Most argue that Oscar nominee Sidibe should have been featured on the cover – she is however included on an inside spread about 'Precious' with director Lee Daniels and co-star Mo'Nique.
Nonetheless, there are also other actresses with promising careers and some solid projects under their belt that could have been featured in the Hollywood Issue.
Ingénues such as Naturi Naughton ('Fame'), 25; Freida Pinto ('Slumdog Millionaire'), 25; Monique Coleman ('High School Musical'), 29; Dani Ramirez ('X-Men'), 30; and Jurnee Smollett ('The Great Debaters'), 23; all fit the criteria that Vanity Fair claims they utilize in selecting actresses.
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