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How to get away with authenticity: Viola Davis and the intersections of Blackness, naturalness, femininity and relatability

Sobande, Francesca 2019. How to get away with authenticity: Viola Davis and the intersections of Blackness, naturalness, femininity and relatability. Celebrity Studies 10 (3) , pp. 396-410. 10.1080/19392397.2019.1630154
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By focusing on the star image of Viola Davis, this article explores intersecting narratives concerning authenticity, Blackness, celebrity, and embodiment, which are revealed as part of media and public responses to famous Black actresses. Discourses of race and fame are unpacked whilst scrutinising overlapping perceptions of naturalness, femininity and relatability. Building upon prior studies of the socio-cultural impact of celebrities’ hair, the analysis focuses on how the hair of famous Black women is read as an aesthetic signifier of the perceived (in)authenticity of their Blackness, which may be entwined with ideas about Black feminist politics. Since the launch of Scandal in 2012 and How to Get Away with Murder (HTGAWM) in 2014, much attention has been paid to Viola Davis and Kerry Washington, the lead actresses in these US television dramas respectively. By analysing online narratives and aspects of interviews with Black women in Britain, this article examines assessments of the authenticity and relatability of famous Black actresses. It contributes to scholarly conversations regarding the contingent nature of impressions of authentic celebrity, including their raced and gendered components. This involves accounting for some of the ways that normative perceptions of Blackness, femininity and feminism operate as part of interracial and intraracial celebrity discourse.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Race, Black, feminist, authenticity, hair
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1939-2397
Related URLs:
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 July 2019
Date of Acceptance: 25 April 2019
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2019 23:00

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