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Vanity Fair earns praise for diverse Hollywood Issue cover

By Todd Leopold CNN | 2/4/2014, 12:53 p.m.
Annie Leibovitz exclusively for Vanity Fair his year's Hollywood Issue of Vanity Fair magazine showcases a diverse group of actors and actresses -- which is generally making the Internet very happy. Among the performers featured on the magazine's March cover, an annual showcase for Hollywood's best and brightest, are six actors of color: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Naomie Harris and Chadwick Boseman. All starred in notable movies in 2013, and two -- Ejiofor and Nyong'o -- are up for Academy Awards.

This year's Hollywood Issue of Vanity Fair magazine showcases a diverse group of actors and actresses -- which is generally making the Internet very happy.

Among the performers featured on the magazine's March cover, an annual showcase for Hollywood's best and brightest, are six black actors: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Naomie Harris and Chadwick Boseman. All starred in notable movies in 2013, and two -- Ejiofor and Nyong'o -- are up for Academy Awards.

They share the cover with some Hollywood royalty, including Julia Roberts and George Clooney.

Observers welcomed the wider palette.

"Can we get all the-times-they-are-a-changin' for a minute?" wrote Jezebel's Dodai Stewart. "Vanity Fair's 20th annual Hollywood Issue has a three-panel gatefold cover, as usual, but this year, there are actual black people on the first third, i.e. the part you see on the newsstand. Progress!"

As Stewart notes, in years past, the magazine has been criticized for featuring a narrow branch of Hollywood talent -- usually a gathering of exquisitely made-up, mostly white, twentysomething and thirtysomething actresses.

The 2010 cover, which included a host of young female stars such as Anna Kendrick and Carey Mulligan, probably came in for the most criticism. That year, Jezebel tersely headlined its story, " 'Young Hollywood' Is White, Thin."

Vanity Fair has also been criticized for sexism, particularly the 2006 cover, which featured dressed-up fashion designer Tom Ford alongside the nude (and very pale) Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley.

But this year has brought approval. Salon's Daniel D'Addario praised the range of age and celebrity wattage as well as race.

"(The cover shows) a healthy and interesting mix of celebrities on every rung of the star system, from the megastar Roberts to the emerging (Margot) Robbie, as well as more than just a group of white stars," he wrote.

The Twitterverse has been equally enthusiastic.

"Look at all these beautiful black people on the cover of Vanity Fair," wrote @MiaTheBoss.

"I love this!! Yes, Vanity Fair for setting a record. 6 people of color on their cover," tweeted @JermaineBrowne.

However, some people said they believed the cover wasn't diverse enough.

On Vanity Fair's website, rmpfdx wrote, "Black and white is not diversity. It's easy tokenism. Where are the Latinos (who far outnumber blacks in this country)? Where are the Asians? Where are the Native Americans? Hollywood always make sure to include one black and then forgets that other colors and ethnic groups exist too. This cover doesn't inspire -- it sickens."

In a press release, Vanity Fair played up the abilities of the cover stars.

"For the 20th annual Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue, the magazine celebrates a year of spectacular film with a group of distinguished actors," the magazine said.

The cover photo was shot by Annie Leibovitz.

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