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21 Comments

  1. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Melissa C.: I felt the same way Brenda did about the portrayal of social workers with Mariah Carey playing the social worker in this film and with the way her character is presented physically. Thanks Brenda for speaking out and speaking to the director of the film!

  2. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Joanna B.: So, he said he portrayed her like that physically because he didn’t want the image of Mariah Carey to get in the way of the role… so why cast her in the part would be my question?

  3. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Shelley G. P.: Casting her blew the whole movie; I don’t even wanna see it now. Director needed to consult with REAL SW’s!

  4. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Ronni P.: I definitely agree with Joanna!

  5. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Linda A. M.S.: Haven’t seen it. I guess I won’t either after seeing the comments. Yes, someone should have consulted a REAL SW so they understand our roles as we journey to empower the lives of others.

  6. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Tyrone J.: It is a great movie, everyone should go and see it. Its a story reflexing humanity on so many levels and very entertaining to say the least. Well done, Mr. Lee Daniels and Ms. Lisa Cortez.

  7. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    I agree with Brenda and her concerns with how SW are portray and it feeds into stereotypes of SW’s. I am reading the booik and I will definitely see the movie.

  8. I think it is an excellent portrayal of the social worker as presented in the book that the movie is based on. I feel it is unfair to criticize the casting and portrayal of the social worker with out first reading what the original author describes the social worker to be. I strongly suggest you read the book PUSH then see the movie Precious. I do not believe it is their intention to suggest that ALL social workers present theirselves in such a manner but for this particular instance, that is the social worker they felt best suited their needs. Let’s be honest… there are some social workers out there whose actions and appearance cause you to cringe knowing they are representing social workers as a whole. Why is it so upsetting to see one in a movie???

  9. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Arlona B.: I am certainly interested in how the SW (played by Mariah) is portrayed? Also, in the trailor for the film, it seemed as though Mariah was playing a DHR social worker? I meet persons out in the community all the time, that have no idea waht social workers really do: society’s misconception of social workers and what broad roles we are able to … Read Morefulfil is an issue for promoting ourselves, in hopes of earning higher pay as well. For example, most people automatically think of child protective services when they think of a social worker. And even though our profession is far more ecclectic and diverse in delivery of service, I fear this movie will enhance society’s misconception of our profession. It is our responsibility to educate others; co-workers, supervisors, dignitaries, other disciplines etc on how broad are skills range. The more we have outreach education of our profession, the more valuable we will be esteemed, and will possibly be paid more fairly.

  10. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Jacq K.: The character’s struggle with self-esteem (skin color, weight, hair) and family pathology are among the many issues we face with our clients regardless of how we look in reel /real life. Kudos Brenda for heightening Lee Daniels awareness.

  11. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Liz M.: This was my immediate reaction when I first heard of the movie! Why portray a S.W. as dowdy – don’t we need take care of ourselves if we seek to help and empower our clients? I often get comments of “you don’t look like a S.W” What’s up with that???

  12. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Craig C.: It is definitely silly season.

  13. As I read the responses to Mariah Carey’s portrayal of a SW in Lee Daniels movie Precious, I couldn’t help thinking that just as the views expressed here are other dimensions to social work and the hard work that social workers do, these views capture only a blink of the life of just one social worker. Just as all people we help have many dimensions, it is also our responsibility to recognize that same diversity amongst ourselves, not only in the work we do, but among each and every one of us. The fact that a social worker, not a doctor, not a nurse, nor a teacher was chosen by Daniels is something that we all have to be very proud of, because historically, we’re the “forgotten.” We pick up the pieces, calm the storm, redirect the families, stabilize the crisis when all the other professions no longer know where to turn. They say, “call the social worker.” Daniels called the social worker, and this time, the world gets to see it. I say we need to be very proud and from here on, everything else is negotiable! Thank YOU Lee Daniels and Thank YOU Mariah Carey!!

  14. I have read all the comments and agree with many….have been a social worker/therapist for over 30 years. Now, I have to go out and be a community advocate (I really always was!) I have been told that we in UPSTATE NEW YORK will probably not get to see the movie at all!!!. hmmmm – lets see- who do I call???

  15. First, let me say I have not read the book (yet), nor have I seen the movie. My concern is that in many places, people are employed to do social service work and are allowed to call themselves “social workers” when, in fact, they do not even hold a degree in social work. The social work profession is very highly skilled and deserves to be recognized as such. Most gratefully, I am a social worker in the state of Texas which provides me with “title protection”. No one in Texas, by law, may call themselves a social worker unless they have attended a CSWE accredited school and have a state social work license. Even many social workers do not understand this protection.

    So, while many people have negative attitudes of social workers, in general, there are actually folks out there who do damage to our profession and are not even of our profession. It is every social worker’s responsibility to educate, educate, and educate again the people who do not know what and how social workers do what we do.

    Thanks to Brenda Wade for standing up and doing her part to educate the public!

  16. The movie, “Precious”, is a work of genius!!!! It should be seen by everyone who wants to better understand children, and what children do when they are hurt, abandoned, & beaten down ( i.e. fantasize and dream of a better life). The movie graphically portrays what parenting isn’t, and what remarkable courage is. I am a retired California teacher who taught for 38 years, children just like Precious and her classmates, and I became a California licensed clinical social worker after retirement. I have worked with all kinds and types of social workers during my teaching years, mostly wonderful ones, and some who should never have stayed in the profession. What I saw in Mariah Carey’s portrayal of the social worker in the movie fit the truth as I’ve seen it. A woman working in crowded, no privacy, often deplorable conditions, doing incredible yeoman’s work trying to help a young person find and retain the hope that they might find a place in this society, having come from very abusive and hostile homes they are trapped in. Most social workers that I have met, both in and out of their offices, have looked harried, like Mariah Carey did. They carry huge case loads, and are expected to perform miracles with very limited resources. Most don’t give up under overwhelming circumstances. The fact that this social worker was able to see Precious for a year of steady counseling is amazing in and of itself. I had many teen-agers who had 4 and 5 social workers during their high school years, with never a chance to see them except for paperwork. Social Work and Teaching are too often deeply misunderstood professions , until you try your hand at them. They probably always will be. But Mariah Carey’s portrayal goes a long way toward showing what a day in the life of a real Social Worker might be. myrnaspecktor@att.net

  17. Brenda, thank you so much for advocating for our profession. I was extremely upset to read the reviews for this movie. My perception was that the reviews appear to portray a social worker in a negative light. It makes me concerned that the character essentially looks “dowdy.” I feel the focus is not on the value of a social worker, rather how horrible Mariah looks. Social workers do not all have bad hair, look nasty, look gritty, or have dark circles. We have true talents and work hard… which should’ve been highlighted. This truly disappoints me. Hopefully, when I watch the full movie, I will see Maria’s role evolve into something of more substance.

    Check it out for yourself. This was the first review I read about the movie:

    Carey, 40, undergoes a transformation from her usual glam self into a dowdy social worker in the drama Precious, which was well received – as was Carey’s performance – at its Cannes screening Friday.

    “The only reactions from fans who have seen the trailer and twittered me have said the movie’s amazing,” Carey tells PEOPLE. “No one has said, ‘Girl I can’t believe you are there with those dark circles under your eyes and wearing a wig and looking nasty.’ No one went that far.”

    Her husband, Nick Cannon, has been equally positive. “My husband’s response was over-the-top supportive and amazing. It was not like, ‘I can’t believe you let yourself look like that in the movie.’ “

  18. I thought the acting in this film, by Miss Sidibe and Mo’nique, was superior. The role of the teacher was also an excellent part and portrayed well. I think that Mariah Carey also did a good job of portraying a fairly inexperienced social worker who I doubt was meant to play an important part in this film. I think the message, as given by Precious, was that her experiences were far beyond the understanding of what life experiences this particular social worker might have had and isn’t this so often the case? To me, this was a fairly accurate portrayal of many young social workers… just out of school with little life experience, who are then hired by agencies unwilling to pay the more skilled, experienced social worker who also has much more training under his/her belt. As a private practitioner with post graduate training and over 35 yrs of experience, I see many young social workers just like Ms Weiss on a regular basis. They used to be called ‘caseworkers,’ not Social Workers and I think you are making this film role more important than it was meant to be in the scheme of things and within the context of the message of this film. Precious, after all, was a girl who grew up in a world colored by hopelessness, both because of the abusive treatment she received and because of her poverty and lack of being educated. Her teacher, in the film, understood this much better than did Ms Weiss, because of her personal life experiences and her mission to help girls like this. She is the one who did help Precious, not the social worker. It’s a bit self serving to pick on the role of the social worker when I doubt she was meant to be all that important in the scheme of things here. It was Paula Patton who was the real social worker here… the one who in time earned the trust of Precious (and who had more time and contact with Precious to be able to do that in the film). It takes time for any social worker to earn the trust of their patients. The type of social worker that Mariah Carey portrayed (in that type of agency setting) wouldn’t have had the time, the privacy, the depth of knowledge, understanding, life experience, training, supervision or freedom to be any of these things to this girl. This film showed us how students live up to the expectations of their teachers and this is of particular importance to the kids who grow up in our inner city schools and neighborhoods. There are many young teachers and social workers who don’t yet have the trust in themselves to expect the best and the most from those with whom they work or serve. To see so many opinions from people who haven’t even bothered to see this film seems ridiculous to me. Would you write a book review on a book you also have not read and expect to be taken seriously? That falls into the same category of the inexperienced young woman who was doing her best to help this girl but just didn’t have the skill, training or life experience one would need to understand a girl like Precious or her mother. As terrible as the mother of Precious was, Mo’nique really showed empathy for this role she played. Two really Oscar worthy performances are what made this film as good as it was. And really, what do someone’s external looks have to do with any of this or what really matters? She looked like a lot of young people working for agencies that I’ve seen and supervised in that era, particularly those who worked for what used to be called Bureau of Child Welfare and Special Services for Children. It’s a film worth seeing.

  19. I saw the movie and thought that the SW role was minimal and the role did not have much depth. Although , one response above indicated that we can “cringe” when we are aware of some of those SW’s in our midst, I felt that someone else could have been cast for the role and the character should have been allowed to project a more positive image, I am tired of that “dowdy” image of Social Workers!

  20. I have not seen the movie yet. However, I do plan on watching this movie. I am glad that social workers are being portrayed via media; however, my concern like other peers/social workers is the way we are portrayed. I am glad Ms. Brenda Wade took such a stand. I believe that if we as social workers continue to be a voice in educating others on our profession, then others hopefully will be able to understand “the value of the social work profession”!!!

  21. Just saw the film and I must say that the comments here oversimplify and, ironically, underestimate the importance of Carey’s role. Here’s what I saw:

    1 – Carey only looks “dowdy” in the role in comparison to how she looked in her pop star role. She looks like a harried, overworked professional. OK – no make-up. But why is that synonymous with “dowdy?”

    2 – Her inexperience is highlighted – but her compassion is too. What Precious says is somewhat correct: “You don’t know how to handle this.” They are talking two different languages, talking past each other. “Ms. Weiss” so often responds with…silence – but her eyes are so full of caring,

    3 – The bits where Precious asks Ms. Weiss the same questions she gets are brilliant. It IS reasonable for therapy clients to feel in the “one-down” position because their lives are laid open and dissected while the social worker is a smooth, unavailable blank. BUT –

    4 – It is Ms. Weiss who ultimately brings about the conclusion between Precious and her mother. And it is Ms. Weiss who, as Precious states herself (“I never saw what you was until this very day”), allows this child to give a name to what she’s gone through, to place the blame where it belongs, and to free herself.

    It’s a complex portrayal, but to me it is one which combats stereotypes of uncaring social workers rather than reinforcing them.

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