Since the inception of film and television, Black actresses have been portrayed as being obnoxiously loud, housekeepers, servants, angry, sexual objects, slaves etc. Black actresses first made their appearance on television being the respectful and very obedient house keeper which is problematic due to our disastrous history being slaves and indentured servants.
For Black actresses to gain some sort of success in Hollywood, they had to settle for not so pleasant roles. Black actresses are often depicted as caricatures instead of playing relatable and non-stereotypical roles. For example, Lupita Nyong’o made her big screen premier as a slave in the Oscar winning movie, “Twelve years a slave.” Lupita also won an Oscar for her role in this movie so there’s no doubt that she’s impeccably talent.
The stunningly beautiful and immensely talented, Viola Davis was nominated for an Academy award for her role in the movie, “The help.” Viola demolished her role portraying an obedient, well-mannered house servant. This wasn’t Viola’s big screen debut, however it was the role that garnered tons of prestigious awards and nominations.
Hollywood gives the same Black actresses the same stereotypical roles fueling the angry Black women stereotype. Black women are much than sexual objects and servants. Black women are more than capable of playing roles other than the stereotypical harlot, angry Black woman roles. These degrading narratives aren’t merely close to showcasing what’s it’s like to be a Black woman. A Black woman in America. A Black woman, period.
Representation isn’t casting a Black woman as a promiscuous, overly assertive being to avoid being attacked for not having women of color in your film, but representation is writing roles centered around what it’s actually like being an everyday black woman. Multifaceted woman. Strong woman. I strongly support Black women who’re creating spaces solely for Black women that’ll justly promote a more positive, and realistic narrative to empower Black women and young Black girls.