Okay, the headline is putting a lot on it, but 2014 is shaping up to at least be a year of significant gains by black women in Hollywood. Let’s just do a little refresher on what black women have going on this year:
-Producer Shonda Rhimes and actress Kerry Washington are calling the shots with ABC’s Emmy-nominated Scandal coming back for the second half of its highly anticipated third season.
– The creator and star of the YouTube hit Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae, is collaborating with Rhimes on a new ABC show called I Hate Dudes. Rae was named as one of the 30 Under 30 to Watch by Forbes Magazine.
-Writer/producer Mara Brock Akil and actress Gabrielle Union are stepping into 2014 with confidence as BET’s first scripted show Being Mary Jane debuted with high ratings and lots of social media chatter.
-Upcoming big budget film Belle (starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is directed by Amma Asante, a black woman who Variety calls one of the “Top 10 Directors to Watch.” She is also set to direct a new film called Unforgettable, a thriller in the vein of Fatal Attraction.
-LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones have been added to the writing staff at Saturday Night Live and Sasheer Zamata is the newest cast member on the legendary sketch comedy show.
-Amber Ruffin just became the first black female writer on a late night talk show. Saturday Night Live alum Seth Meyers just hired her for Late Night. The New York Observer notes that she might be the first woman of color period to have that role on a late night talk show.
Those are just a few things that black women in Hollywood are up to this year. That little list doesn’t even include the magazine covers, award nominations and general buzz.
What I love about this list is that it is made up of black women who are content creators. It’s wonderful to have talented actresses in front of the camera, but what we desperately need is more black women behind the camera, shaping the portrayals we see on-screen. Often times we complain that black folks only get awards for playing slaves, maids and prostitutes/pimps. We can change that! The way we change that is to have equally diverse and talented people back-stage as on-stage. Those same actors who receive accolades for playing slaves and maids, can win just as many awards playing queens and presidents.
Do you think this year could mark the beginning of even more changes in Hollywood for black women or is this all a fluke?