Jamaican accent on tv or in the moviesPublished Nov 30, 1998
I don't know about anyone but any time I hear a "Jamaican accent" on tv or in the movies I start to cringe and slink down in my seat. I mean it's because of these portrayals that people ask me where I learnt to speak english so well when I open my mouth and we all know that the mainstay of every Jamaican's vocabulary is irie. Never mind that I've never actually heard a Jamaican in a simple conversation say irie it's part of the world's misconception on Jamaica. I suppose that I should be grateful that it's not worse. I mean I have a friend from St. Lucia who's told me that people have asked her where in Jamaica is St. Lucia. But to get back to the matter on hand the portrayal of Jamaicans in the media gets from bad to worse.
Take "How Stella Got Her Groove Back". Now that was one movie that I personally boycotted. I mean you would think that if they're filming the movie in Jamaica they would pick on how we speak and they didn't. OR that they would actually use Jamaicans in the movie to kind of distribute the movies but they didn't as far as I know. Now comes the reason for this article.
I went to see "Meet Joe Black" this weekend adn in part of teh movie an actress playing a Jamaican came on. So of course I started to cringe but then I started hearing words like obeah and duppy so I started to listen a little more and she looked familiar. I mean, if anyone has ever watched the "Guess who's coming to dinner" version of Oliver it's her. Lois Kelly-Miller. I couldn't believe. She even had Brad Pitt saying rhaatid. For this alone you all must go and see this movie. To finally see a Jamaican playing a Jamaican on tv and doing it well makes me happy and I was thrilled throughout the rest of the movie. Granted they never actually said she was Jamaican just from the islands but as I've already said all the islands are just believed to be an extension of Jamaica anyway. You must go just to hear Brad Pitt chat patois. The movie is good but having a Jamaican in it adds to it.
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I realize this article was written twelve years ago, but as a dialect coach for actors I see this problem continuing today. I have always loved Lois Kelly-Miler's performance in 'Meet Joe Black' though -- in fact I just watched the film again last week and her part in it was so natural that I watched her scenes several times. I cannot believe that 'Meet Joe Black' is her only credit on IMDB.com. She's wonderful.