Do you Think Black Women Are Negatively Represented in the Entertainment Industry?
Do you feel like there's a negative image of black women in the entertainment industry? Do you feel like there are not enough positive representations? It's true that there are so many great platforms and business opportunities for black women unlike never before. However, the representation of black women still needs to evolve and change.
History of Black People Breaking Into the Industry
Once upon a time, there was no representation of black people in the entertainment industry. They were not on TV, movies, magazines, or even radio. Things have changed so much when it comes to Black people being portrayed on TV.According to Mental Floss, Lincoln Perry was the first Black actor. He used the stage name Stephin Fetchin and starred in roles like 1929's Hearts In Dixie, 1930's A Tough Winter, 1934's Judge Priest. Had a skill of winning the audience over with his comic relief. Perry was in over 40 films and is often considered to be the first Black millionaire. According to Mental Floss, he peaked fame and fortune in the 1930's owning dozens of cars, wearing cashmere suits, and had sixteen servants and chauffeurs. He was known for playing "The Laziest Man In The World" in multiple roles. He was ridiculed for playing a stereotypical "lazy" Black character.Many people especially civil rights leaders proclaimed that it was a disgrace to the culture because it promoted racism and embarrassment. After failing to get Black and White actors to have equal pay Lincoln Perry quit Hollywood in 1940. He died in 1985 in a hospital for members of the movie and film industry. Although known for not being the best representation of Black people he paved the way for other Black actors.The next Black actors to grace the screen were Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel. According to Biography.com Hattie McDaniel was the first Black actress to win an Academy Award for her supporting role in Gone with the Wind. Sidney Poitier was the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for his leading role in Lilies of the Field. This was a huge accomplishment for many Black actors because it was the first time they were recognized by the Academy. In spite of this, there was always a constant complaint that Hollywood was still negatively representing Black women. The roles that they were portraying were always slaves or domestic help. Yet Black actresses were still making history in the films and TV.
Black Women Pioneers
In keeping with Biography.com Dorothy Dandridge who was a great actress and singer became the first Black actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She was best known for portraying a seductive love interest because she was known for her beauty. Years later according to Centric TV Whoopi Goldberg became the second Black actress to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was also the only Black person to win an Emmy, Grammy, Tony, and Oscar.She was one of the few actors in the industry that would not change her look in order to cater to the European standards. Centric TV also names Oprah Winfrey as one of the best Black actresses. Although Oprah is a media mogul. She began by using her talk show as a platform to tackle some of the most controversial topics. She’s been nominated for two Academy Awards. She was the first Black woman to ever be on the Forbes billionaire list. Oprah Winfrey has made it her legacy for being a humanitarian and a great representation of black women. She has illustrated that black women are not only smart but are great entrepreneurs.Centric TV name's Angela Bassett is also one of the greatest actresses. She made history by being the first Black actress to win a Golden Globe for her authentic portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Go To Do With It. These are actresses that made a way for Halle Berry to become the first and only Black actress to win an Academy Award for lead actress. Without the actresses like Hattie McDaniel and Whoopi Goldberg, there would be no Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, or Viola Davis. Because of these actresses, Black women are being represented as lawyers, professors, and smart business owners.
Negative Representations of Black Women
While there are so many positive portrayals of black women being represented, there are also negative sides as well. The worst representations of black women in the entertainment industry come from reality shows. Basketball Wives, Love & Hip Hop, and Real Housewives of Atlanta have some of the poorest portrayals of Black women. The nonsense arguing, fighting, and made up story lines negatively exploit Black women. What's worse is that a lot of these producers are also Black women.There needs to be an end of Black women arguing and attacking each other on reality TV. This kind of portrayal has a negative influence on young Black girls. When they watch this, they start to believe that this sort of behavior and fighting is acceptable.According to The Root.com, these reality shows are teaching young girls that girls can’t be trusted, cause drama, and are backstabbers. If these shows are supposed to be based on reality then what does this say about the image of Black women? There is a need to be more positive representations of them in real life. In the beginning, they were portrayed as strong, smart, and successful, but soon that message went left, and they began showing anything on reality TV. If the viewers of these shows would take a stand and boycott these shows these images would change.
How to Change The Representation of Black Women
In order to change the representation of Black women, we have to be willing to contribute and support the positive representations. We are not loud, rude, disrespectful angry women. We are strong, smart, educated, professional, women who are more than just the labeled “ratchet” and “ghetto” characters seen on reality TV.Producers and writers like Shonda Rhimes and Oprah Winfrey are creating characters reflecting positive Black women. Oprah is one of the greatest representations of Black women in the entertainment industry. She has inspired Black women all over the world that can be successful in this industry.