Wentworth Miller: One of Today's Most Underrated Actors

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...my open call response to OpenSalon.com
...pic borrowed from People Magazine

I think one of today's most underrated actors is Wentworth Miller. I've been following his career since his performance in The Human Stain a few years back. His work in this film made some important connections between particular mixed race, Jewish and African American responses to American demands of assimilation.

That role, plus his critically acclaimed role as the protagonist in Prison Break, have worked to make Miller one of the most thoughtful and nuanced performers of recent memory. His choices in roles, from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, to Dinotopia Underworld to Prison Break and the upcoming Resident Evil 4, are all about breaking boundaries and social stigmas and taboos. I think part of his sensitivity comes from his "ambiguous" persona and identity. In an interview about his role in The Human Stain, Miller explains this sensitivity as part of a mixed race identity. He says that

there is the sense of being between communities and you sometimes wonder if you don’t have to answer to any group or interest, that you're some sort of racial Lone Ranger, but the flipside of that is that a racial community, functioning at its best, provides not only a sense of identity…but a sense of security and support. When I run into trouble, what group will rally to my defense, come to my aid? The answer, and it’s scary, might be no one.1

On the one hand, one can see how Miller's ambiguity has been a hindrance. On the other hand, he's been able to harness it as “chic.” That is a true demonstration of talent.

In sum, Miller's performances can be seen important and necessary representations of mixed race identity as ambiguous form, commodity, transaction, and trend. I think the strength of his acting is the way in which it can cause audiences to think critically beyond the images they see--about the role of media in the formation of mixed race subjects, forging of interracial relations, and imagining of new forms of "ambiguous" identification in today’s multicultural environment. I look forward to seeing his next starring roles or perhaps some projects in which he is behind the scenes as writer and/or director.
1Quote from Wentworth Earl Miller III, interview by Walter Chaw, “Miller’s Crossing: Filmfreak Central Interviews Actor Wentworth Miller about The Human Stain.” http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/notes/wmillerinterview.htm. (2-3).


Got me thinking

I've thought a lot about this, and LP-B and I talked about is as well, resulting in her sending me "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker. I've almost got a whole essay on what it means to "write culture" and "act culture" swirling around in my head now... In any case. I enjoyed this post. Thanks.