Date of Award

Spring 1991

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1991 Robin M. Bennefield. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Black Studies, English Literature


This thesis examines the following questions: Where does the Black woman as actress fit into this idea of artistry as survival and power? Acting is considered a craft, an art. But has the Black woman been able to find her own spirituality and beauty in this craft? Has she been empowered in Hollywood's world of film? The film industry is the fantasy world of the white society. White men and to a certain extent white women can be anyone they want to be in movieland and the Black man or woman is their servant. The Black actor and actress are not allowed to live out their fantasy in film. They must relive the reality of oppression on the big screen. The Black woman could not be the rich heiress to a fortune, live in a big house or drive a fancy car. She could not even act human. Like any other objectified person in white dominated society, the Black woman must recreate the roles they were given and make them their own. Methodology includes film research.