Had it not been for Jennifer Beals, the
character of Bette Porter in the hit Showtime series “The L Word” would not
have been biracial. Beals convinced producer Ilene Chaiken to make Bette
mixed, “so I could serve all those people who were like me and had never
seen themselves represented except for maybe in a Benetton ad,” she told the
audience at the POWER UP benefit gala in November 2004.
In a stirring speech, Beals talked about noticing the lack of media
representations of mixed race people when she was growing up: “Somehow my
story wasn't there. I was too young to start reading Faulkner, I hadn't seen
‘Imitation of Life’ and so I wasn't aware that I was supposed to be the
insane, oversexed tragic Mulatto gal. Certainly my otherness sometimes was
so palpable it was a wonder that anyone could see me. I was that invisible.
And certainly when society fails to write your story there is an unspoken
message that the story is not worth telling.”
We applaud Jennifer Beals’ dedication to telling the stories of biracial
people. From her portrayal of the mysterious femme fatale Daphne Monet who
passes as white in the 1995 film noir “Devil in a Blue Dress,” to her
rendering of the Civil War-era biracial plantation heiress Amanda Dickson in
the 2000 TV movie “A House Divided,” to her current role as Bette Porter on
“The L Word,” she has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to promoting the
visibility of mixed race people in a thought-provoking manner.