It’s about goddamn time Mary J. Blige gets a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame! The institution announced on Thursday that MJB’s star will be installed at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA on January 11, right around the time we can expect her to wine and dine Oscar voters—that is, if she gets nominated for Mudbound. (She should get nominated for Mudbound.)
Anyway, Sean “Love” Combs (fka Diddy) will be on hand to help honor the R&B legend, too, which is good and worthy and long overdue!
After spending some serious time Reading Online, I learned Blige isn’t the only one seemingly overlooked by the institution: the Walk of Fame has a poor history of representation and really strange process for induction. Why did it take Blige so long to get what’s her’s?
Let’s say you’re selected for the Walk—what now? Getting your name on a star requires a weird, compensatory process: Upon nomination by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, you’re then required to raise $30,000 to fund the ceremony, which pays for the star itself, security, photographers, and anything else required for setup. Time pointed out in 2013 that studios and record labels usually foot the bill, but sometimes fans will hold bake sales or recycle to raise funds? Stans, they’re just like us.
Blige, it should be known, now has both the backing of two behemoths, Capitol Records and Netflix (who shouldn’t mind throwing down $30,000 for some more awards exposure.) But what about other overlooked talent?
It appears that only recently the Chamber of Commerce made a diligent effort to include minority entertainers on the Walk of Fame. There are currently more than 2,600 stars on Hollywood Blvd and, as of the most recent inventory of minority representation from the Chamber of Commerce (from 2011, via CNN), people of color comprise just more than 8 percent of the stars on the Walk of Fame. Not only does this figure alone drastically land beneath the national average for all minority groups, but it’s less than just about each of the top three racial identities, per the most recent census figures. Not great, guys.
In each of the last two years, 35 percent of new inductees have been entertainers of color. Although it’s a steep uptick from the eight percent across all stars, there’s a vast percentage of Americans who might find themselves walking along Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles, unable to see themselves represented in the stars.
And there’s still much work to be done! As of 2011, there were nearly twice as many cartoon characters represented on the Walk of Fame as there were real-life, human, Asian entertainers. There’s a fair share of blame to be placed on studios and labels themselves, obviously, for not always telling the stories of underrepresented groups in the first place, but no one should have trouble coming up with more variety than the eight percent.
In the grand scheme of things, the Walk of Fame might seem like one of the less important institutions for recognition—it’s probably the only place where you’ll find Shrek, Criss Angel MINDFREAK and Charlie Chaplin coexisting in a harmonious space—but it should be in all of our best interests to have such a prominent tourist attraction reflect the broadest possible cross section of America and Hollywood.