There is a lot of awards buzz for Oprah Winfrey’s triumphant return to the big screen as Gloria Gaines in The Butler. With critics praising her role as Forest Whitaker’s character’s wife, Oscar bloggers declaring her the early front-runner for Best Supporting Actress, and even President Obama being moved to tears by her performance, the queen of talk may be positioned to claim her second Academy Award (she has an honorary Oscar for humanitarian work). That The Butler topped the box office for three weeks doesn’t hurt her chances either.
A win for her would be deserved—she’s wonderful in the film. But it’d also be the latest example of what seems to be a Hollywood maxim: Black women only get the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress when they play characters who confirm the stereotype of the Sassy Black Lady—bold, sharp-tongued, impertinent.
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What, if anything, can be done to help rebuild Armstrong’s image? Lance Armstrong, after all, isn’t just a man. He’s a marketable brand, too. Since it launched in 1997, his foundation Livestrong (formerly known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation) has raised more than $470 million for cancer awareness and research. So I asked four professionals in brand management, public relations, and consulting what advice they would give to Armstrong to help salvage what’s left of Brand Lance.
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