Abstract More African Americans appear on network and cable television than ever before. Yet there are few quality dramatic roles for black actresses. The critical attention and public controversy surrounding Marc Forster's Monster's Ball (2001) demonstrated the existence of an audience for independent, art-house cinema featuring serious African-American characters. It's unfortunate that when read against the identity categories of race, gender, class, and region, Halle Berry's Leticia Musgrove seems to be a conflation of stereotypes: the sexual siren and the welfare queen.

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