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5 New and Upcoming Films With POC Leads

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

People of color have been historically underrepresented in film. In 2021, times have changed. Minorities are no longer limited to stereotypical roles in blockbusters; rather, they’re the leads in multimillion-dollar movies. In commemoration of how far we’ve come, here are five films to watch this fall with POC leads.

1. Respect

Released on Aug. 13, 2021, Respect is the Aretha Franklin biopic we’ve been waiting for. Grammy-winning singer and Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson shines in the lead role, and her casting was no accident. Hudson auditioned for “American Idol” with Franklin’s song “Share Your Love With Me” back in 2004. What’s even more incredible is that the Queen of Soul herself picked her for the role. 

Respect is a heartbreaking yet inspirational look into the life of Aretha. The film depicts sensitive topics such as alcoholism, domestic violence and sexual assault. If you don’t mind shedding a few tears, Respect is in theaters and it’s available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

2. Candyman

Directed by Nia DeCosta, Candyman is a direct sequel to the 1992 film of the same name. The supernatural slasher was produced and written by Jordan Peele. Tony Todd reprises his role as Candyman and Emmy-winning actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays Anthony McCoy, a visual artist and the protagonist of the film. With an 84% score on Rotten Tomatoes, Candyman is the perfect horror movie to watch this fall.

Candyman appeared in theaters on Aug. 27, 2021. It’s also available to rent on YouTube and Amazon Prime.

3. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The latest installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, hit the big screen on Sept. 3, 2021. And it didn’t disappoint. With Asian cast members and Asian-influenced visuals, the film delivers on representation. 

The story is a journey in which Shang-Chi discovers his place in the world. His identity struggles are relatable to anyone caught between two different cultures. Japanese-American director Destin Daniel Cretton wanted Shang-Chi to feel personal to many as there is “no single Asian American voice.”

Marvel fans, check out Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in a theater near you or on Disney+ in November.

4. My name is pauli murray

If you haven’t heard of Pauli Murray, then you’re about to. My Name Is Pauli Murray tells the story of Pauli Murray, a non-binary Black lawyer, activist and poet. She was the first Black person to earn a JSD from Yale Law School and co-founded the National Organization for Women. Their ideas on civil rights and the women’s movement inspired the work of Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall. You can stream the documentary on Amazon Prime on Oct. 1, 2021.

5. The harder they fall

The Harder They Fall is an American Western film scheduled to be released on Netflix on Nov. 3, 2021. The plot follows an outlaw who reunites his former gang to seek revenge against the man who murdered his parents. The Black cast includes household names like Johnathan Majors, Idris Elba, Lakeith Stanfield and Regina King. Jay-Z is even credited as a producer and songwriter for the film. The Harder They Fall seems like it’s going to be a wild ride — one you won’t want to miss.

Whether it’s in theaters or on your couch, you can support POC films right now.

Brie (she/her) is a senior at the University of Central Florida studying literature, digital humanities and editing & publishing. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, singing in the shower and taking care of her houseplants.