British actress Naomie Harris has been nominated for an Oscar for her role as a crack-addicted mother in the 2016 indie drama Moonlight. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some other roles she's played in her career.
The producers are to be congratulated on a wise choice of type
A photoplay well worth seeing for the powerful contract enforced between the lives of plain people in Russia and America, and for the remarkable character portrayal by Miss Edith Storey. An audience is often wearied by the sight of a peasant girl or squatter's wife in a photoplay, daubed with face powder, rouge and lip-salve, more outrageously slapped on than by the soubrette who gets "fifteen per" for singing through her teeth "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" at a vaudeville performance. Miss Storey is a wholesome girl of strong physique and natural conduct, who does not cause such a role as that assigned her in the Russian play to appear like a drawing all out of proportion. The average actress makes up for a peasant as though she expected to appear in an operatic chorus and looks at much like one as a lobster square soubrette docs like a woodland nymph. A very large part of the art of the motion-picture actress is subservient to accidents of person, such as form, features and nerve in emergencies, and too few of the ladies much photographed arc really worth it because they depend upon artificial aids rather than open- air exercise for magnetic personality. Acting is not subject to the conventional exactitude of painting, sculpture and poesy; it is largely an art of the individual, and a woman who carefully preserves her natural endowment of health by well-known means will be more effective in a picture than the creature who smirks and frets because photo- dramatic roles call for a self-expression or self-repression only reachable by women in fine control of their physical mechanism. Miss Storey's training has been that of an athlete while she has had small opportunity in the flimsy and commonplace cowboy, "hoop-la" drama that hits the lowbrow bing where the bones arc thickest; she has been in a fine preparatory school for better things to come in Vitagraph production. It is not an easy matter to truthfully portray the character of an Indian squaw or Russian peasant woman, both crushed and hopeless creatures, relegated to almost purposeless existence by the brutality and degradation of the male of low order. Dull, utterly miserable, dragging out an existence of semi-slavery without a redeeming spark of kindness or sympathy from the lords and masters, women of this class are not supposed to have anything that is heroic in their natures, whereas the reverse is the case. The suffering they endure ennobles them in an inconspicuous way. The peasant girl in this play is bound by oath to marry a brute in her own class on the eve of departure for America to earn money for a father in extremity, and she not only performs her unselfish duty but respects the promise exacted from her to wed a man who is not her natural choice. On reaching America the girl finds herself in a civilizing environment that appeals to all that is fine in her, is put in contact with the most unrestrained and complicated existence for women in the world, but she preserves her natural poise in spite of bewildering sensations aroused by her new surroundings. Charmed by the attractions of unchecked self-government, she improves rapidly, acquires an education and forms an intuitive attachment to a young man worthy of her in her superior condition. He declares his love and she is drawn to him by all the impulses of her sex, but is compelled by conscience to consider the prior engagement, a mere detail for the civilized woman, and resolves to fulfill it. There is no faltering, no tension, no attempt to compromise with her ideas of right and wrong; she leaves a tender note for the man she loves and goes back to the gloomy country of her birth ready for the sacrifice. She returns to her home and announces her readiness to keep faith from principles higher than those displayed in loftier circles of society and this forms the best part of the story, though there is relief at the end. The producers are to be congratulated on a wise choice of type, and the young actress upon the art of concealing art that gives her impersonation a delightful fidelity to truth. - The Moving Picture World, November 4, 1911
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