By The Way Vera Stark Character Analysis

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Lynn Nottage’s play By The Way, Meet Vera Stark is an interesting play that deals with race during 1933 Hollywood. The two main characters Vera Stark and Gloria Mitchell show how black and white actresses were treated back then. Vera is African American and in the 1930’s the roles for her were degrading such as playing maids or slaves. Meanwhile Gloria, a “white” actress, gets the leading roles for movies. These two women show us how Hollywood treated black and white passing actresses. Hollywood sees Gloria as their latest star and dubs her as “America’s little sweetie pie”. She is given the leading lady role in almost all the new films and when she 's older she can still get work in acting. She is most famously known playing Marie in The Belle of New Orleans and much later on she is honored with the United Motion Pictures Medal of Honor. She is adored and successful even when it is hinted that she is not fully white. Vera: You’ll never let me forget, honey. Will you? And you might remember there 's a lot I could say about your daddy , my mother’s- (p.13)
This line alone shows that Gloria isn’t what Hollywood or America think she is. She is related by blood to Vera, her
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She cannot pass for white or “other” and lives with two other women. Although being related to Gloria she works as her maid and helps clean her messes, both literally and metaphorically. Vera wants to be a successful actress but because of her skin color, it is difficult. Her only big break is when she plays the slave Tilly in The Belle of New Orleans. She was nominated for an Academy award for best supporting actress, making her the first African American woman to receive the honor. Carmen also reveals that Vera was signed into a multi-year contract but because of her skin color the only roles available for her were maids. Again The Belle of New Orleans was seen as the big break for many black

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