“Black is not my job”: the day 16 black actresses made their voices heard at the Cannes Film Festival

On the occasion of the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, Madmoizelle takes you back into the unknown, funny, revolting and feminist anecdotes of the history of the Festival. In 2018, 16 black actresses came together to denounce the racism and sexism they suffer.

While #MeToo had just emerged in the United States, it was decided to advance the revolution in the fight against sexist and sexual violence with that of Afrofeminism. Exactly almost 6 years ago, on May 16, 2018, sixteen famous French and black actresses carried a committed message at the top of the steps of the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

Reduced to the roles of housekeepers or prostitutes

At their helm was the actress Aïssa Maïga, a strong voice in the industry. Accompanied by fifteen other actresses, including Nadège Beausson-Diagne, Mata Gabin and Karidja Touréthey gave a speech against it racial and sexist discrimination that persist in French cinema.

Their action was inspired by their collective book Black is not my job, where they testify to the stereotypes and obstacles they face as black actresses in France. They refuse to be confined to the stereotypical roles of housekeepers, prostitutes or hangers-on, where they are required to have an “African accent,” which makes one wonder what that means.

On the red carpet they came together as a collective voice. “We have been in the 21st century for 18 years, the time for the majority has come” proclaimed Aïssa Maïga to the microphones of TV Festival.

The event was a moment of sisterhood and pride for these actresses, who were welcomed at the top of the steps by singer and jury member, Khadja Nin. Their action didn’t stop with the speech as at the end of their speech they danced to Rihanna’s “Diamonds”, a symbolic act of resilience and celebration.

Six years after their performance, French cinema owes much to these women who broke the code of silence and allowed the emergence of female and racialized voices, too often silenced in the art world.

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Source: Madmoizelle

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