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Juanita Moore: the Oscar nominee who fought stereotypes and racism

The Imitation of Life star was pigeonholed and undervalued by Hollywood but years later, she is finally receiving the recognition she deserves “I went through a hell of a lot, you know? Being black and all. And beautiful!” Interviewed on the TV at the age of 92, Juanita Moore may have been laughing but she was telling a painful truth about her career in Hollywood. Despite being Oscar-nominated for a truly great performance in one of Hollywood’s most powerful melodramas, her career was a struggle: for recognition, for roles worthy of her talents, and her own fight for better opportunities for her Black peers in the entertainment industry. A new documentary, which premiered this weekend in Los Angeles and will be screening until 10 November, tells the life story of this remarkable actor. It also tells the story of racism in 20th-century Hollywood: as seen through the eyes of a woman of remarkable talent and integrity. It’s a fairly low-key film, but it contains some compelling footage, not least Moore telling truth to power on a news bulletin, but also interviews with recently departed stars Sidney Poitier and Louise Fletcher, and clips from the full length of Moore’s long career. She was born in 1914 and died aged 99, on New Year’s Eve 2013. She started out in showbiz as a chorus girl in the Cotton Club in the 1930s, became a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild in 1937 and was working right up until 2001. She appeared in more than 70 films, but most of her performances went uncredited. Her greatest success came in 1959, when she was nominated for an Oscar for her astonishing performance in one of the greatest American films, Imitation of Life. Continue reading...

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