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Celebrating Black Actors and Directors

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

Black history should be celebrated and noticed everyday, not just during Black History Month. A beautiful way to immerse yourself into Black culture is through media, especially movies. Black directors and actors have been underrepresented and misrepresented in the media throughout history, but these movies are examples of beautiful filmmaking and stories of Black history.

Watermelon Woman

Watermelon Woman” is a queer movie about a Black lesbian filmmaker who explores the life of The Watermelon Woman. This actress was famous in the 1930s who portrayed the archetype of “mammy.” Historically and stereotypically in the U.S., a “mammy” was a Black nurse, maid or nanny in charge of white children. This movie follows Cheryl, played by herself (Cheryl Dunye), and her journey into the life and legacy of the Watermelon Woman. This film has won 4 awards, including Best Feature Film at the Berlin International FIlm Festival. This film can be accessed through Amazon and Showtime.

Do The Right Thing

Directed by Spike Lee, “Do the Right Thing” is a comedy-drama centered in Brooklyn, NY. New York City in the summer had a lot of blackouts which created chaos and tension in the streets, and this movie shows different symbols of racism in their own Black neighborhoods. The growing hatred results in tensions rising between those who are oppressing and the oppressed. “Do the Right Thing” has won 21 awards and had 17 nominations since the release. This film can be accessed through Amazon or Prime video to rent or buy.


Starring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, “Blindspotting” is a commentary film on race, gentrification and incarceration. The movie follows Collin, played by Daveed Diggs, through his final days of probation after being incarcerated. Miles, his best friend, is very volatile and Collin does not want to ruin his chances at a new life in Oakland, CA. There is heavy commentary on police brutality and the criminal profiling of Black men. “Blindspotting” has won 5 awards, some from Black film festivals. This movie can be accessed on Tubi, IMDb TV, and others.

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” is a documentary following the teachings and studio life of Debbie Allen. Debbie Allen is an American actress, dancer, choreographer and so much more. This documentary stars the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, located in Los Angeles, CA, a non-profit organization that offers a rigorous dance curriculum. They focus on the Black and Latino communities and aim to inspire their students. Their version of The Nutcracker blends a variety of dance styles. This documentary can be watched on Netflix.

Through media and meeting with others, we learn different perspectives than what we identify with. For those that do not identify with being Black or other identities related, we will never know exactly what they experience in society. But we can learn and appreciate the beautiful culture through several mediums, including film.

Sarah Metcalfe

American '24

Sarah is a Journalism major at American University. They have fell in love with writing and reporting since they were in middle school. It is a dream come true to still have a strong passion for writing. Learning and researching everyday is important and they hope HCAU and their articles can help everyone!