|Is Beyoncé being punished for not being the bad kind of diva about her role in Dreamgirls, asks Peter Howell.|
I’m sure Beyoncé Knowles doesn’t need my sympathy, but I’ve been feeling sorry for her anyway.
I’m also worried that her snubbing at the Oscars might lead Hollywood to be even more avaricious in the future.
When Dreamgirls was being touted by over-caffeinated commenters as a guaranteed Best Picture nominee and likely winner, months before the movie was even released, it also seemed as if Beyoncé was also shoo-in for Best Actress honours.
She was top-billed for the movie, right behind Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx and ahead of comedian Eddie Murphy.
That was before the press got a look at the movie and many scribes decided that the real story was Jennifer Hudson, the American Idol cast-off who plays a rejected Motown diva. And suddenly it became Beyoncé who was the cast-off. She’s being punished for not being the bad kind of diva.
Hudson is indeed great in the role of Effie White, both as an actor and singer, and she deserves acclaim and the Best Supporting Actress nod she eventually got. But it’s sad that in downplaying her own natural ebullience and singing power in the role of Deena Jones, Beyoncé was deemed to have been upstaged by Hudson.
The New York Post wrote it that way in a very catty article, just before the film’s release last month, saying the former Destiny’s Child lead singer is made to look “like a pretty extra” by Hudson.
Hudson does get more screen time in the movie, but Beyoncé’s role was supposed to be that of a slow-blooming talent. “I knew the risks before I took it,” Beyoncé said at the New York junket I attended in December.“I read the (stage) script. I knew that Deena was not the underdog. I knew she didn’t sing (the show-stopper) ‘And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.’ I knew that all of our parts are very important, because it’s an ensemble cast. I knew she wasn’t the lead. It’s not about her life.”
She was very gracious about congratulating Hudson for a job well done and she seemed completely credible when she said she didn’t accept the role to win awards or to prove that she can sing. “I have nine Grammys,” she said. “I don’t have to prove that I’m a star, because I already am. I wanted to prove that I can act.”
She did just that, but what’s troublesome about this is that she’s being made to look bad for being a good soldier. She didn’t try to upstage Hudson for the sake of her own image, which many other actors would have.
Being a team player might have cost her an Oscar nomination. And you can bet that other actors will take note and be less reluctant to do what she did, in allowing a complete unknown to so dominate a movie.
Anything that makes Hollywood less about the art and more about the glory is a bad thing