Robert Townsend did it all in Hollywood Shuffle. It was his directorial debut and he also gave a wonderful performance. It’s a satirical comedy that is loosely based on Townsend’s actual experiences in Hollywood. He was told over and over that he needed to act blacker and that’s just something people have always been insensitive about. I’m glad this film was made because there’s people out there that need to hear the message.
As I already mentioned, Robert Townsend plays the main character Bobby Taylor who is an aspiring actor. He is shown at the beginning of the film with his younger brother, acting as a “jive” character for this part in Jivetime Jimmy’s Revenge. It’s a film about street gangs that is extremely stereotypical. So much so that the lighter skinned black actors have to act as Latino gang members. That’s what Bobby is trying to do for work, but what he really does is work at Winky Dinky Dog, a shitty hotdog stand. Bobby has to really look in the mirror and decide what it’s worth to chase his acting dreams.
Hollywood Shuffle moves with a very unique pace and is hilarious. I love Robert Townsend’s performance as Bobby and I don’t quite understand why this isn’t a more popular film. It oozes with style and has so many wonderful supporting roles, including a really funny one from John Witherspoon as Bobby’s boss at Winky Dinky Dog. His comedic timing was impeccable. I want to share Hollywood Shuffle with everyone because I feel extremely grateful to have stumbled upon it.