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As Hollywood continues to grapple with its diversity problem, actors of color push forward to do the necessary work, or as Viola Davis put it after her SAG win, Black creatives will continue to “find a way to be excellent.”

Against the backdrop of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Vanity Fair rolled out its annual Hollywood Portfolio issue and some of our favs made the list.

In addition to Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o and Gugu Mbatha-Raw appear alongside vets like Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton on Vanity Fair’s gorgeous cover shot by famed photog Annie Leibovitz.

Beyond the cover, Leibovitz photographed of the actresses in intimate, often striking profiles.

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VF on Viola Davis: Justice delayed isn’t always justice denied, at least not where show business is concerned. For an impermissibly long time Viola Davis has been delivering supporting performances that pack an outsize wallop, maximizing her screen time not through showy flourishes or scene-stealing gambits but by investing every moment as if it has a lifetime of experience behind it, putting serious money on every beat, often undercutting the solemnity with sly inflection. (She provided the emotional core to the blurring motion of Michael Mann’s techno-thriller Blackhat.) No matter the role or circumstance, her characters are always to be reckoned with, and the consistent high caliber of her work (Doubt, The Help) raises the question “Why is someone this great not getting bigger standing?” And now, after too long, she is, starring in the ABC series How to Get Away with Murder as the criminal-law professor who mind-games her student disciples like a mentor from an Iris Murdoch novel. Next major sighting: Suicide Squad, a DC Comics all-star howdy-do, where she attempts to reform super-villains by giving them something constructive to do: save the world.

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VF on Gugu Mbatha-Raw: “Gugu” is short for “Gugulethu,” which is Zulu for “Our Pride,” and if, as some Jungian analysts believe, destiny and identity are kerneled in one’s name, well, here you go—what more proof is needed? Pride defines the aura of her performances, an observant bearing that occupies its own quiet place, even in the frantic thick of a phantasmagoria such as the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. Born in Oxford, England, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Mbatha-Raw began her climb on popular series such as MI-5 and Doctor Who, achieving first-class status on the movie screen with starring roles in Belle, a drama set in the 18th century about the mixed-race daughter of an admiral in the Royal Navy and her anomalous place in the drawing rooms of the wigged aristocracy, and Beyond the Lights, a pop-music romance about a superstar for whom success is a gilded cage. She also teamed with Will Smith inConcussion, the sports procedural and moral inquiry into the spate of brain injuries in the N.F.L. produced by heavy-impact helmet-to-helmet head butts and the league’s effort to look the other way. There’s no looking the other way when she’s on-screen.

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VF on Lupita Nyong’o: Only three feature-length movies she has and yet possess us she does, as Yoda might say. Of those three, one could be categorized as kinda so-so (Non-stop, where she played a flight attendant while Liam Neeson went through his dour heroics), but the other two were sonic booms. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Nyong’o made her motion-picture debut as Patsey in Steve McQueen’s unsparing, unrelenting 12 Years a Slave, a portrait of pain, desperation, fortitude, and beatitude that enthralled critics and earned her the Academy Award for best supporting actress. Her incandescence on the red carpet during this 2013 awards season—when she also collected supporting-actress noms from BAFTA, the Screen Actors Guild, and those crazy cats at the Golden lobes—established her place in a new constellation about to form. Last year, Nyong’o joined the embattled heavens as Maz Kanata, pirate queen, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that little movie you may have heard of that all the Jedis have been talking about at the dojo. She will almost certainly trip the lightsaber fantastic in the force awakenings ahead.

To read the rest of the profiles go to the Vanity Fair website

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  • mywordsaremypower

    Not fooling anyone by dropping in a few black here and there. I swear white people love that “unconscious racism” a little too much -_-. They had that old crag face Charlotte Rampling with her racist self, I would have to have accidentally pushed her off the seat forher nasty commnets, the old hag. White is so boring and bland to just look at, it makes my skin turn ashy just looking a sea of white faces.

  • Dorian Grey

    Lupita so beautiful so glorious….

  • Mary Burrell

    The sisters are not looking glamorous for such a magazine as Vanity Fair. They do as little as possible for the black celebrities when it comes to glamour. I don’t like it.

  • vintage3000

    I might be wrong but this might be one of those issues where all the actresses are photographed sans makeup for the inside photos.

  • blogdiz

    Annie Liebowitz is full of sh1t she did a similar “diverse cover two years ago where all the WW were either embracing or sprawled over the black men ,(i guess proving the men had now arrived ) whilst the two lone BW Lupita and Naomi were standing by themselves alone and untouched as apparently BW are neither in need of protection or affection.
    She is also the photographer behind the infamous Lebron James ” King Kong cover with model Gisellel, she knows exactly what she is doing