February 12th, 2010
04:31 PM ET

Vanity Fair's picks for 'new Hollywood' cover spark controversy

Upscale celebrity publication Vanity Fair started a series of comment wars a few weeks ago when word got around that their March "New Hollywood" issue didn't feature any actresses who weren't white or thin.

As Yahoo!'s fashion and beauty blog noted, the March issue cover featured 9 women: Abbie Cornish, Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Hall, Mia Wasikowska, Emma Stone, Evan Rachel Wood, and Anna Kendrick. All of them are talented young actresses, many of whom made grand leaps forward in their careers in 2009.

But there were a few Hollywood "it" girls who were obviously missing from VF's issue, particularly "Precious" actress Gabourey Sidibe and "Avatar" star Zoe Saldana.

While blog commenters debated whether Vanity Fair was right or wrong to not have a more diverse picture of who's hot in young Hollywood, Zoe Saldana told Access Hollywood that she thinks people are focusing on the wrong thing.

"We can spend a lot of time bashing our beautiful country, but we don’t give it enough credit," Saldana said. "Our pace might be a little slow, and it might not be on par to how we as civilians would like it to be, but it’s still an amazing country."

In Saldana's view, magazines like Vanity Fair and Vogue will eventually become portraits of diversity, much in the same way the Oval Office has become more racially and ethnically inclusive as of late. "It’s just a matter of time before magazines, the media, our art, our culture, our colloquial lifestyle tags along to our reality," she said.

Saldana, who is of Dominican descent, said that if you come from another country - or at least travel widely - you understand that the U.S. isn't so bad.

"I’m a first-generation American, and I know what it’s like to feel very, very proud – my family is from the Dominican Republic, from the Caribbean, and I feel very proud to be from the Caribbean - but as an American I was also taught by my mother who’s an immigrant to be very grateful to this country," she said.

"It’s no different than when you have a dysfunctional family," Saldana went on. "It may be dysfunctional, but it’s still your family, and America is still ours."


Filed under: Celebrities • movies

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Tiffany

    I am a black female and I have to agree with Zoe. Stop focusing on the negative and just keep on moving. Vanity Fair in my opinion is a white girl magazine. If I want hair,makeup,skin or weight advise I will look in a magazine geared toward black women. Whats wrong with that. I really think the controversy was started by white journalist and vanity fair competitors. Seriously, I really don't see the issue.

    February 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. laurie

    Zoe is naive. She's also very young. And the people stating that "this is a great country, love it or leave it" are sorely missing the point. There is always room for improvement in anything, any place, and anywhere on Earth. We are not a perfect country. We are not a perfect people. We can always make ourselves better. You limit yourself to the lowest common denominator when you think otherwise. You don't have to be white and thin to be worthwhile.

    February 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Head Diva In Charge

    Ok, I don't think Zoe Saldana is on the cover because as "cool" as Avatar was, it wasn't a very good "acting" movie. As far as Gabourey Sidibe goes, yes, I do think the fact that she is over weight and doesn't have the normal Hollywood beauty played a part in her not being on the cover. Of course I feel this is b.s., however – isn't it the consumers who set the standard?

    February 16, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Str8 Outta TX

    oh... and kim kardashian is still the shit!

    February 16, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. Delirium

    Classy lady.

    Very Red, White & Blue.

    February 16, 2010 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Nelly

    to the cynic get over yourself unless you come from another country you do not understand how lucky you are to leave in this great nation of ours. I am an immigrant who also served this country in the United States Marines. What about you what have you done to change your country. My single raised three extremely successful children in this country. By the way I'm a hispanic and that never has stopped me from being successful. My suggestion since you don't care for this country find another I'm sure you think that would be easy. Good luck with that

    February 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. teddyp

    You do not have to be brought here in chains to know the struggle of what it is like to be a minority living in america. We all want to use slavery as an example but why not look back 50 years ago, or why not today. Think about all the comments you make to your friends or to yourself or even on blogs about minorities and see if things have really changed. Regardless if Vanity has a high minority readership or not shouldn't a magazine be about the people who make up the community? Maybe and this is just a suggestion if they were to have more people who looked like Zoe, America Ferrah or Gong Li on their covers than there subscription numbers may be up.

    February 15, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paula

    Sonya, I really think you are the one who needs to shut up. Your comments are so very rude. To say that "Saldana is the typical person from a struggling developing country who has stars in their eyes" is extremely racist. BTW when exactly did YOU arrive here in chains? You're free to leave anytime you like. You go on to say that this country is more than 200yrs old, but do you actually grasp how YOUNG that really is? We are an extremely YOUNG country. YOu should think before telling others to shut up!

    February 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MJ Shaw

    A. The article/feature is about established, breaking out, actors: those who will shape Hollywood's future for the female acting professional. It's not focused on new-comers.

    B. Dakota Fanning has been in the business since early, early in her life, and she is still only 15 (maybe close to 16). She is not yet a WOMAN. She is still only a girl.

    It will never cease to amaze how someone will always make a mountain out of a mole hill....

    February 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TAllagash

    what percentage of readership that purchases vanity fair is black? T

    February 15, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. italia

    Don't worry about this, this industry is slowly dying because of things like this. They still want to perpetuate the "white" ideal of beauty and brains when it just isn't true. You have a lot of up and coming women and young men of color that are blowing the doors off the place and they aren't even trained actors. What about Zoe Saldana and Michelle Rodriquez,, from Avatar. Gaborey Sidibe from Precious. See they do this mess and they know what they are doing. People of color get no respect and it is entrenched in Hollywood. And it is sad when you see that a powerful group of people in Hollywood were persecuted themselves once, so much that they are totally into sitll "passing" in 2010. I saw the Vanity Fair issue on the shelves of my newsstand and guess what? IT STAYED THERE. That's how you respond to stuff like that. YOU LEAVE THE PRODUCT THERE. Speak with your pocketbooks. They forget people of color are one of the biggest brand purchasers in the country and globally. When their numbers drop, they will get the message.

    Peace! "You" are the change you've been waiting for...nuff said.

    February 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. To Sonya...

    Sonya,

    If you read the article you would have found that Zoe Saldana is a first-generation American, meaning she was born in the U.S. to immigrant parents. She probably has to contend with racism just like every minority in this country. If you recall, immigrants were the enemies in the last political race, today it's homosexuals. Why this country feels the need to discriminate is beyond me.

    And another thing, I don't think YOU were chained up and dropped on U.S. soil, so don't try and steal the hardships that early African–Americans had to contend with. I respect the fact that you have an opinion on the issue but to tear down a fellow minority simply because you believe you have it harder than she does is ignorant and insensitive. Fight for all minorities; in the end, we are one in the same. My hardships can become your hardships, and yours will be mine.

    February 15, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jae

    BTW, many of the posters here are right on the money. I especially like kaparrishinatl. I never buy Vanity Fair or GQ or Entertainment Weekly, simply because of the strong racial bias. Vote with your wallet, baby!

    February 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jae

    Seriously. It seems like it's gotten worse since Obama took office. Look at SNL - they do him in blackface for their skits... and that's OK?! I agree with the poster that says Saldana is naive. People like the posters Jade and Kwag are kind of like kkk apologists. Their argument, which never varies, is – this is a fair process to do otherwise is a) too time-consuming, b) kowtows to PC or c) stupid. All three answers are basically a variation of, "It's unfair to white people." So, the irony is that they hate people of color whining about achieving diversity, yet they whine about resisting diversity. And, the double standard continues. Hey, Jade and kwag, there's an all-white basketball league in Atlanta you can check out. Should make you feel right at home.

    February 14, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ellie

    Zoe is so incredibly naive! Wake up and smell the roses for what they really are!!!!

    February 14, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  16. Morty

    Who cares? Most of these actors couldn't hold a candle to the legends, like Pamala Lee, David Hasslehoff, Gary Coleman, Dustin "Screech" Diamond...

    February 14, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  17. Never Surprised

    Here is the deal: Why are we so surprised? I have all the comments and agree – we need to focus on what really matters and think of other ways to get recognized. As an African-American, I don't have a victim mentality. I believe that everyone one will have his/her day and I find it insulting for some people to think that "just because" a minority is on the cover – I will buy it! I don't think so – no interest in Vanity Fair and they have the right to do what they want...get over it people. We are too sensitive on this race and diversity topic. I am so sick of hearing about it...move on, get a life and realize that things are not always going to be equal. Create your own magazine!

    And Saldana's views on racial pace, what is she thinking? Again, too young to understand and will never experience the treatment of African-Americans or Latinos or Asians in the US.

    February 14, 2010 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  18. Anita

    It's 2010 people. Are there folks out there who still doesn't get why BET and ESSENCE magazine exsists? Does this really have to be explained to people? My God....

    February 14, 2010 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
  19. teddyp

    It is not about being politically correct. I am tired of people throwing the PC word around to justify the things they are saying. It is the year 2010 and the only representation for Hollywood is still white women? Come on! Zoe whateva her name is was in the highest grossing film of all time and that same film garnered 9 Oscar nominations. Now when people call a spade a spade your next argument is about age and having a cut off? So now it is okay to discriminate a person base on their age? Just like it is okay to discriminate a person base on their sex. Get a grip. Bottom line no race should have to wait until they are accepted by society to be included. The simple fact that Zoe says that clearly shows her ignorance and lack of education in referenced to the struggle of African Americans living in America. For those who still thinks it still okay to only show/display or highlight a certain group of people need to take the time to look at CNN's features Blacks and Latinos in America and maybe you can grasp some aspect of what it is like to be one of these minority groups.

    February 14, 2010 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  20. Anon

    I've never heard of Beyonce or Halle Berry or Whitney Houston or Jennifer Hudson or Naomi Campbell or Janet Jackson or Gabrielle Union or Oprah Winfrey or Tyra Banks or Mary J. Blige or Whoopi Goldberg . . . Shall I go on?

    Let's all pull the race card because this one specific Oscar season or whatever it is doesn't include "women of color".

    Articles like these only inflame and proliferate the idea that African American women don't measure up; when in reality they are equal, and in some ways, surpass white women! We all know Whitney Houston or Aretha Franklin can do it better than any white woman can!

    CNN you have proven ONCE again to be a pot-stirrer like no other.

    Oh and by the way, Saldana shouldn't be a "new star"; she's been around kickin butt for years! And Stewart also shouldn't be receiving accolades – – she's a tween star who will fade fast.

    Most of the comments on here are more racist than the VF article!

    February 14, 2010 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  21. Marsha

    I'm Black. I don't read Vainity Fair. I don't really care.

    But the story was supposed to be about new Hollywood, some those gilrs on the cover been around awhile.

    February 13, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  22. ian

    African Americans are only 12-13% of the population so I believe they are already over represented in the media. Being on every show and every magazine would not be representative.

    February 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Denise

    I found the cover to be quite offensive..how on earth did they not include Gabby Sibide for her highly acclaimed performance in Precious. And she's an Oscar nominated actress...yet she does not represent the new Hollywood? The message of VF was loud and clear and typical in Hollywood...no matter how gifted or talented you are as an actor/actress of color you are not considered part of the new Hollywood.

    February 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Fat Luke Wilson

    Hey Cynic, how's your cynicism working out for you? Because Zoe's ridiculous optimism seems to be working out for her.

    February 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Aitch CS

    Yes, it would have been better to have more diversity in the "young, female Hollywood" cover. But really, people, can we not get our panties in a knot over such things!!! Please just chillax baby!

    February 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Kate

    I think the article makes a good point. Why is there no representation from people of colour – there are some fine young actresses out there who aren't white or thin. To me it just shows the same old, same old mentality that makes Hollywood movies and Hollywood stars terribly boring.

    February 13, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  27. bingbangbong

    Hello....Zoe Saldana was on the SAME VANITY FAIR COVER two years ago!!!!!
    popcrunch.com/vanity-fair-magazine-hollywood-issue-march-2008-vanity-fair-hollywood-issue-2008/
    I respect Gabourey Sidibe's amazing performance in Precious, but let's be honest, it's not likely she's going to be involved in many films moving forward.
    Perhaps the criticism should be directed towards Hollywood's inability to PRODUCE decent roles for women from diverse backgrounds.

    February 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  28. kaparrishinatl

    And people are shocked by this? Why, please tell me? Since we now have a Black president and first lady, shouldn't we be pleased with that? I mean we can't just be everywhere, can we? This is why I don't buy or subscribe to this magazine. People wake up! Racism in the media is taking over and can no longer be contained. They are no longer even trying to hide behind the bigotry and racism. What you can do is stop spending your money on this garbage.

    February 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Jade

    Give me a break!!! Why does everything have to be turned so politically correct. Our society is almost becoming too politically correct. So what, maybe the panel who chose the 9 actresses did so based on THEIR OWN OPINION. And not by the pressure of having to pick people by their race. If they had to put someone on the cover just to say ok we put a black woman or an asian woman or whatever that would almost be worse wouldnt it???!!

    People are also slightly hypocritical....I mean do you hear people crying racist on the BET channel??? Or magazines for Latinos??

    Enough is enough.

    February 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  30. under the dome

    WHAT? – dakota fanning has been in more movies than twilight...

    February 13, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  31. Sonya

    Saldana is the typical person from a struggling developing country who has stars in their eyes when they come to the US but I never thought she was as dumb as when I read her comments. WHile Hollywood has been good to her (no doubt because of her light skin and Caucasian features) let her not forget the thousands of young minorities who have to struggle with injustices for years. "Our pace might be slow" she says. It is not slow, it is stagnant. This country is more than 200 years old! As Saldana chose to come to this country and was not brought here in chains, I suggest that she needs to shut up. Her success is solely due to the struggles of African-American actresses and she is now reaping the rewards. So the pace is however, not slow for her and she needs to shut up.

    February 13, 2010 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  32. kwag

    Not everything is about race any more than everything is about gender or age. Vanity Fair had their criteria. Not everyone met it. It really is ok to not include every color, gender or age on the planet.

    February 12, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  33. WHAT?

    cynic- Saldana keeps a positive view on life and the world (or the US in this case). Not being a "cynic" is what draws people to her and will continue to bring her much success as an actress. She didn't get to be part of this Vanity Fair cover/article, but she is prime to keep exploding as a star. If she were to dwell on the fact that "it's not fair," that attitude would not bring her a long way in life.

    LL- Dakota Fanning was in Twilight for all of 5 minutes. I think if Vanity Fair or any other magazine runs an article like this next year, she will be the cover girl. Saoirse Ronan has a bright future as an actress, but the fact that the lovely bones was a monster hit didn't help her cause.

    February 12, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  34. LL

    What about Saoirse Ronan or Dakota Fanning? I think they should be part of the "new Hollywood" cover.

    February 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  35. cynic

    Saldana is in for a shock. Her simplistic and hopeful view of race in America (and Hollywood) is ridiculously optimistic. She should ask herself why she is still waiting, in the year 2010, for diversity in the media. I'm an American-born Black woman, so I'm well aware that women of color have always been invisible to the entertainment industry and the media in general. Not only will Saldana be waiting a long time for those magazines to become "portraits of diversity," but her children and grandchildren will be waiting for that long-anticipated day, too.

    February 12, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |

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