There’s no such thing as bad publicity in Hollywood. The real crime is the lack of publicity when it comes to black Hollywood. Since the beginning of ‘tinsel town’ film stars, recording artists, radio and television personalities have thrived on the magazines, newspapers and broadcasts that give fans a hint of how they live, work and play.

Today Hollywood gossip, which for many is good publicity, has been taken to a whole new level. But with all this activity there is still a noticeable difference when it comes to publicizing the careers and goings-on of black celebrities.

Black film and television personalities are still hungry for that mention by the press, particularly if it’s good. It seems the hip hop community gets their share of publicity but it’s generally on the negative tip, but it’s still publicity. And, the “A-List” tier, such as Will Smith, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington get their fair shares.

Publicity keeps careers alive and fresh in the human consciousness. It also helps to build careers, and creates a buzz. Publicity alone can save a faltering career and enable performers to use that notoriety to branch out into other areas, such as a spokesperson for a cause, or political belief and it even can lead them to lucrative commercials in America and abroad. Good publicity goes far beyond what we see splashed on television, or in newspapers and magazines. To understand the power of publicity and how to use it in Hollywood can sometimes be the difference between success and failure.

There was a slight buzz around Beyonce and Jay-Z’s wedding not hitting the covers of the major celebrity glossies. Their picture did appear on the cover of US Weekly Magazine, but according to Lee Bailey’s EUR on the web, of the big five celebrity glossies out midweek, it was only US Weekly that put news of the wedding on its cover.

It is said that a common belief between editors of these magazines is ‘African Americans on covers don’t sell magazines.’ Interestingly enough the editor of US Weekly is the only non-Caucasian to head a top celebrity magazine. This commonly held belief about the lack of black appeal on the cover of magazines zeros in on the bottom line. Is it economics, or is it racism?

We have to keep in mind that everything we read, see or hear is based on someone’s opinion. Yes, they look at research reports, spend top dollars on surveys and do their level best to hire ‘people in the know;’ people who generally look like them and share the same thoughts. Because they have similar experiences, anything new or different is looked upon with suspicion, and a caution sign is erected. And, in this money hungry world who’s going to take a chance and go against the status quo?

Writers who chose to report on what’s happening in black Hollywood hear this commonly held belief again and again. What’s most disturbing is that they also hear it from blacks who have moved up the corporate ladder and have taken on that same sentiment. But, to these blacks, it’s all about economics and keeping their jobs. This same thought prevails in movie making and television productions; that the black image does not sell, not even overseas. Yet, in spite of their sentiments, blacks continue to make headway in theses areas.

Publicity is vital for black personalities. And many of them work extra hard to get it, especially black actresses. A number of recently released films featuring black actresses in supporting roles, such as the mother, or best friend of the featured player offer these actresses the opportunity to take advantage of the publicity mill. These actresses willingly participate in telephone interviews and press junkets in order to help boost their careers. Much of their publicity is largely dependent upon media outlets such as Our Weekly newspaper, and black operated magazines.

Black publications tell our story. And, slowly but surely, the mainstream media outlets are beginning to understand that we’re able to support our own when it comes to books, magazines, films, etc.

Don’t hesitate in contacting mainstream publications or television shows requesting more print or air time regarding the careers of black Americans in Hollywood. Publicity is a good thing and it can help keep their careers alive and well.

– Gail Choice is an independent writer/producer. She can be contacted at gcprods@aol.com.