We Outchea: Black Women (and men too!) Showing out in Film & TV

Girls Trip.JPG

I love to watch TV. I mean, who doesn’t? In the recent years, I have been turned on (pun very much intended) to many shows and movies where I see a familiar face—mine. Growing up, I settled for the bare minimum in media, and as long as what I was watching featured a “token” I was as good as gravy. I could breathe a sigh of relief that hey, maybe there is still hope for Lil’ brown girl like me.

 
...Insecure by just literally existing is teaching folks about one: The power of when black women get to tell their own authentic stories and what that looks like in contrast to other examples. And two: It also is teaching other creators — especially black women creators — ‘You can do this. This is happening. Don’t feel like you have to be left out of this space.’ And for so long we have been.
— Amanda Seals
 

Over the years, and even now, black actors are pigeonholed to fit a palpable stereotype that’s easy to digest for the majority. Though stereotypes aren’t inherently bad since they draw from some truth, the mistake, of course, many people make is to apply them to all people that seem to “fit” a certain description. For black folks, all it takes is our skin color to qualify us for one of the typical archetypes. Yet still, when faced with negativity we rise.

This year was truly a high point for representation in media. We had Hidden Figures with 24 nominations, one of which was an Oscar nod, we’ve had Tracee Ellis Ross winning her first Golden Globe for Black-ish, Get Out (nuff said), and of course one of my personal favorites so far, Girls Trip. Seeing black females in roles that were so inspiring and relatable to any viewer was the carefree black girl breath of fresh air that I desperately needed.

Another thing I’m truly here for is that on top of visible representation, we are showing out behind the scenes too! Ava Duvernay just won 3 Creative Arts Emmys for 13th, Common came through with a win for outstanding original music and lyrics (also from 13th) and is only a Tony Award away from the illustrious EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). And we can’t talk about black creators unless we include people like Issa Rae. Issa has done something for black television that’s indescribable. She created and starred in her own series, making the coveted transition from YouTube to network television. I honestly love how Insecure portrays black millennial friendships and relationships from a refreshingly accurate AF perspective, sparking not-your-everyday conversations on social media on a weekly basis, like, what more can we ask for? Oh, I guess just having several black women present in the writer's room, we can just throw that in there too. Anything she writes, I will watch without question (Black 90210 pitch anyone?).

 
 

I also can’t forget the men doing it for the culture, like Donald Glover. I’ve been a long time fan of his from his days writing for 30 Rock, starring in and writing for Community, all up to Atlanta, for which he won a Golden Globe in the show’s first season! I feel like a proud little sis.

There are so many other shows and movies featuring blackness in a multifaceted light that is being added to my growing list of things to watch/re-watch (See below). All I can say is I’m happy that there are too many to choose from right now. It feels like a golden age in black television where I can truly see myself through many different lenses and roles in the creative process.

Here are some of my favorite TV shows and movies that I've watched and ones that I'm looking forward to watching:

"The List" TV Shows & Movies

  • Being Mary Jane
  • Chewing Gum
  • Dear White People
  • Greenleaf
  • Queen Sugar
  • Grown-ish (early 2018)
  • This Is Us
  • The Carmichael Show
  • A Wrinkle in Time (March 2018)
  • Black Panther (February 2018)
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • Proud Mary (January 2018)
  • The Incredible Jessica James
  • Insecure

 

What are your thoughts on black representation in media? Any other films or TV shows you'd recommend me watching? Comment below!

 

-Rachael

*Artwork by LaMae Nembhard