Representation Matters: Why Black Films Are So Important

For years African-Americans and so many people of color have been very limited in the roles they have received in television and film. Growing up, I was obsessed with action films and basically anything featuring a superhero in it. As a little girl, I always found myself being disappointed seeing that most of the action films or any television show for that matter had a lack of characters that truly represented myself and that looked like me. The only roles I did see people of color in seemed to be very cliché. In the past two years, films featuring black actors in major roles have been dominating the box office and receiving recognition at so many award shows. In 2016 the film Moonlight won the golden globe award for the Best Motion Picture.

Moonlight is a film that is based on the play In the Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue which showcased an adolescent black boy in three stages of his life trying to figure out who he is and his place in the world. Hidden Figures is another film featuring black actors in leading roles. Hidden Figures told the story about three African-American female scientists working for NASA. The movie was critically acclaimed and received three Oscar nominations. It is amazing to finally see so many black films reaching success and breaking records in the box office. According to forbes.com, the film Girls Trip (released in 2017) was the first film that was produced by, written by, and featured African Americans to break the $100M mark! With all the success black films are starting to see there has been so much anticipation around the film Black Panther, the first major action film featuring a predominantly black cast.

The film is an adaptation of the comic books under the same name, published by Marvel comics in the 1960s.The same comic publication that featured the notorious X-Men comics, according to screenrant.com, the X-Men comics were in fact based off of the Civil Rights Movement as well as the activists, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. These historic figures were the inspiration for the infamous characters Professor x(Charles Xavier), and Magneto( Erik Lehnsherr).

I am so excited to see the success surrounding Black Panther. My excitement is not just about the fact that there is a major film with a predominately black cast that’s receiving the same positive outcome as films featuring a predominantly white cast. The film itself is a testament to all of the talents within the black community. For so many years studio executives felt like black films would not receive the same success as films with a cast that’s predominately white when in actuality according to the Chicago Tribune, minorities are the key factor in films receiving box-office success. Now African-American children have the chance to grow up and watch so many different films, over and over, and experience the same joy and excitement I experienced as a little girl watching some of my favorite films. But today, they live the experience that I did not by truly feeling represented on screen and having characters that look like them in roles like, scientists, kings, and authors. I encourage everyone to go out this weekend and experience the melanin magic that is being shown on the big screen.