This year’s annual Young Hollywood issue by Vanity Fair has sparked nothing short of outrage in many readers. The issue, which is supposed to feature the next generation of stars, fails to include any actors of color on the cover. Celebs who made the cut include Abbie Cornish, Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Hall, Mia Wasikowska, Emma Stone, Evan Rachel Wood, and Anna Kendrick. However, in a year where Zoe Saldana has been heralded for her performances in both Avatar and Star Trek, and Gabby Sidibe received an Oscar nomination for her performance in Precious, many are left scratching their heads over VF’s decision making process. As it turns out, Stewart and Seyfried were also on an August 2008 VF cover touting "Hollywood's New Wave." And this was also a white-girl-only cover. How is it that the magazine can’t think of one actor of color worthy of inclusion on one of their Hollywood issues?
"While we'd like to think celeb bible Vanity Fair puts a great deal of thought and planning into its annual "New Hollywood" issue, this year the editors really limited their scope when it came to choosing the next big stars. (Or perhaps they overemphasized the "Fair"? ) Every woman on its new cover is extremely thin and very, very white. Unless Vanity Fair considers one redhead to be diversity, we feel the need to cry foul,” wrote Joanna Douglas on Shine.com.
Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson wrote about the Young Hollywood issue, “Where was Zoe Saldana, of Avatar and Star Trek? Or Gabourey Sidibe, the Oscar-nominated actress from Precious? This year, we’re going to see our most diverse Oscars red carpet in years. We should see that respected on television and in our magazine covers.”
Dodai over at Jezebel wrote, “It's hard to say if fault lies with the editors of the magazine, or with Hollywood itself—trying to come up with some projects employing new, young Asian, black or Latin actors and actresses is a tough exercise.”
For their part, reps for Vanity Fair claim that many factors were considered in choosing the final cover. They say picking which actors will be included in the Young Hollywood issue involves careful consideration about an actress’ body of work, which might disqualify newcomer Sidibe, for example.
Vanity Fair said in a 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 out 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.”
It sounds to us like VF is making a lot of excuses about their choices. We understand the realities of racism—we face them everyday. Hollywood has made no secret of their attempts to marginalize people of color, and Vanity Fair is perpetuating the idea that Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans are something outside of the mainstream, people that don’t fit neatly into their pale, skinny ideal.
What do you think? Does this Vanity Fair cover scream of racism? Or are the naysayers overreacting?