Continuing our BPQs at the Oscars series....Today, we spotlight Margaret Avery, a legendary Hollywood actress & ex-pageant girl. The 75-year-old entertainer is best known for her performance as Shug Avery in "The Color Purple" (1985), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (see video clip). @margaretshugavery
Back in 1961, an Oakland black newspaper announced the "first major beauty contest for Negro girls held in Northern California": the Miss Bronze pageant. Margaret Avery, who was raised in San Diego, was one of the young women who took part in the pageant over the years. Belva Davis, who organized & expanded the pageant throughout California, wrote in a 2011 article for MS. magazine: "Today, few would consider the creation of a beauty pageant as a serious way to fight injustice, but it proved to be an effective tool four decades ago. The Miss Bronze contest gave our young contestants the confidence and self-pride they needed to pursue the dreams they held of breaking through the crust of doubts about their own self-worth. Simple things such as good posture, a confident smile, the rewards of volunteering — all helped the contestants define and aspire to become their best selves. Participation in the Miss Bronze California pageant opened the door to talented women of that era, some who continue to [have] enjoyed long careers in the entertainment industry — like Oscar nominee (for The Color Purple) Margaret Avery, and Marilyn McCoo and Florence LaRue of The Fifth Dimension."
After "The Color Purple", Ms. Avery has continued appearing in films (as recently as last year's "Proud Mary"). In 2013, she began starring as Helen Patterson, the lead character's mother, in the BET drama series "Being Mary Jane". She is also an activist who works with at-risk teens & battered women of Los Angeles metro. 👏
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