A rural resurgence of African-American actors in American West movies and TV series has taken over Hollywood — and Cowgirl Candace is utterly lovin’ it. Keep in mind, I’m an ’80s backwoods baby. My farming parents raised me on cult classic Westerns like “Silverado,” which featured the gorgeous Lynn Whitfield as a sassy saloon girl named Rae. I wanted to become Rae as a country kid. Her Wild West can-can costume was epic and enchanting.
As I got older, I started researching more African-American Westerns I could identify with and came across 1974’s “Thomasine & Bushrod.” This black Western starred the stunning late Vonetta McGee. Again, she too wowed me in her baby blue Southern belle dress with matching hat. She also reinforced a world that connected to my Southern heritage and image.
Fast forward to HBO’s popular Old West sci-fi, “Westworld,” and actress Thandie Newton’s character, Maeve, manifests me as a contemporary cowgirl in the following ways:
Maeve keeps it canny. This sharp-witted character pays attention to her surrounds and knows exactly how to maneuver in uncomfortable situations. When I started my editorial career as a reporter and writer, investigating tense topics and interviewing sometimes strange sources helped me develop a super tough skin. Those experiences advanced my creative and problem-solving skills on and off the job, which is what Maeve has to tap into constantly to stay one step ahead within the fictitious world she’s confined to.
Maeve keeps it classy. Although Maeve is a brothel temptress, she holds herself in high esteem. Everything she does is calculated with charisma. She knows how to hook those she encounters with assertive poise and politeness. One reason I have succeeded as a professional, award-winning journalist is because of how I carry myself to gain reliable mentors and sources. Manners go a long way, and like Maeve, I bring Southern hospitality with me no matter the person or place.
Maeve keeps it cute. Despite Maeve’s conflicting reality, this robotic character continues to uphold this natural elegance — nude or clothed — throughout the series. Whether she’s donning her signature can-can dress or nothing at all during system upgrades, she fluently modernizes her darling Old West appearance. And just as Maeve continues to adapt to the ebbs and flows of her digital world, I too have smoothly adjusted to the latest technology of my industry in order to advance my craft and profile as a 21st-century cowgirl and content creator.