Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Black History Month Day Two: Naomie Harris/Selena

When I finished watching 28 Days Later only a few weeks ago- I was completely blown away by Naomie Harris. In her, I found one of the most compelling and fantastic performances that I've ever seen woman, man, black, white PERIOD. This woman is a bad ass- with a giant heart. Her past experiences and her back story- are enough to make us bow down at her feet, while at the same time cower in fear that she'll hack us into bits at a moment's notice. Harris' Selena is an inspiration to post apocalyptic survivors everywhere- and her real story is pretty damn inspiring too. For these two reasons I just couldn't decided whether to highlight the Naomie Harris aspect or the Selena aspect- and so....I've chosen both!

Born and raised in London, Harris graduated from Pembroke College with a degree in social and political science. As it turns out- Naomie did not find such an easy time awaiting her in her college years -Harris herself says,

"When I went to Cambridge University, Mum said I wouldn't fit in and she was right, I hated it. The people there were so different to me. They talked about Eton and skiing and here I was, this black girl from Finsbury Park. I just felt so lonely. There was only one other black person in my year; I was very unhappy and cried every day."

Overcoming the adversity she faced growing up, Naomie Harris was able to succeed as one of the most influential and most talked about celebrities in Britain. After her starring role in 28 Days later, Harris went on to star in the 2nd and 3rd Pirates of Caribbean movies as Tia Dalma (and Calypso)

Quite literally she has made waves- and I for one am eager to see where her career takes her.

Now in regards to the character of Selena- I can't tell you how wide eyed I was when she hacked up her partner Mark at the film's beginning.

Right at that moment- any living human watching was convinced that this girl did not mess around. Her constant ruthlessness was evident throughout the film- yet she seemed to soften a bit with the introduction of Hannah. Knowing a bit about Selena's back story seems to explain this change- as Selena was forced to kill both of her parents when they became infected in hopes of saving her younger brother. However once she had killed both parents, Selena found that her brother too had become infected- and she was forced to kill him as well. Perhaps Selena's softening is due to her reoccupying that role as an older sister- as she is given another chance to protect her sibling. This fact alone- makes me love her even more.

The character of Selena in many ways emulates that of Duane Jones--although a bit differently. She is defying the stereotype of women characters in horror movies- and more importantly African American women characters in horror movies. She is a strong, woman who tends to take care of Jim more than Jim takes care of her- a complete 180 from what we are used to.

Sure Jim ends up saving both girls at the end- but Selena from the start took the reins and pulled Jim in and out of trouble in a true reversal of roles. She is not a character who was brought simply into the mix in order to bring comedic relief, boobs, or a quick first death. Nor was she really brought in to offer up some sexual tension--and while there is romance it is not at the center of the film. Instead, Selena and Jim stand as two individuals ready to do anything it takes to survive. Sure they may have fallen in love-

but not at the expense of gratuitous sex scenes or other such nonsense.

Not to get completely preachy here but the very fact that our last two remaining male and female characters that are left (save for Hannah) are black and white- gives such an outstanding blast of hope for the future. Yes it may have only been Great Britain that was quarantined- but the simple fact that the addition of Jim and Selena's relationship may be the key to ending racism is enough to bring more than a few goosebumps to my arms. The character of Selena is one that I think will go down in history as one of the most powerful female leads of all time and one that will always make me proud to be a woman (sorry that was cheesy) GO WOMEN WOOO!

Fun fact about Naomie Harris? She's a Buddhist!


Chris H said...

She is amazing and I didn't realize she was in the Pirates movies. I knew that character was cool for a reason, even though I hated the sequels.

Dod said...

I just love her character in 28 Days Later: strength and humanity in one intense package.