By Elizabeth Gracen:
I have a tendency (I know that I'm not alone in this) of slipping down various rabbit holes when something catches my eye, so I'm not exactly sure how I stumbled on the Facebook account of Old Black Hollywood, but I'm certain it had something to do with classic black & white photography. With a few clicks and a DM to the creator of the account, I made contact with Claire K. Guerre to ask her all sorts of questions about her passion project. You gotta love social media!
Please meet Claire K. Guerre and Old Black Hollywood!
EG: Claire, thank you so much for talking to us about your incredibly vibrant social media feeds and your website. We might as well start at the very beginning . . . please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and why you created the Old Black Hollywood website.
CG: I was born in Haiti and came to the US when I was 2 years old. Growing up in a strict Haitian household, I wasn't allowed to go out and play with my friends in the neighborhood. So, as a child, I became an avid watcher of movies from the 1920s to the 1970s. However, it was not until I was in my mid 20s that I realized I never watched any old time movies with Black actors in that time period. I remember reading Dorothy Dandridge’s biography, and I was fascinated by who she was and her struggles with being a Black actress who refused to be typecast. I started researching more Black actors from the 1930s through the 1970s. I wanted to share their stories with everyone. In 2014, I created the Old Black Hollywood FB page and in 2020 the website. They were created to give Black actors and their movies exposure. People can learn about them and know they are the ones who paved the way for Black actors of today.
EG: Your Facebook account is chock full of fantastic photos and videos of the many Black actors and actresses who worked in Hollywood in days gone by. Why is it important to understand this history? How has learning and featuring this work changed your life, and how can it change the lives of those who take the time to learn about it?
CG: It is important to learn about the Old Black Hollywood Actors and their movies to understand how hard it was for them to work as actors—the roles that they had to take and the roles some of them refused. Most of the Black actors were heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement. It is necessary to share their contributions to Hollywood. By researching the Old Black Hollywood actors, I became passionate about creating a platform for them. I have gained so much knowledge, understanding, and respect for them. People who follow the FB page and visit the website are engaging with it. They share their thoughts and opinion about the actors. Some of them never heard of a couple of the Old Black Hollywood actors. They share how much they appreciate the page and learning about the actors. I would like to believe it can change the lives of my followers by helping them gain a broader understanding and appreciation for the actors.
EG: There are so many images and videos. Let’s break it down and talk about a handful of your favorites.
EG: Tell us about the digital magazine offered on your website: Glamorous Women of Old Black Hollywood?
CG: The Glamorous Women of Old Black Hollywood Digital Magazine is a digital magazine that features 6 glamorous actresses who were powerful, beautiful Black women in Hollywood. They were incredibly sexy and sensual!
EG: What are you plans for this project going forward? What can our readers look forward to and how can they follow the project?
CG: The plan for Old Black Hollywood is to create a private paid FB group. It is going to be more engaging and fun.