Black women in films are represented in various roles. Meanwhile, some people find that the role of black women in films in today’s cinematography is restricted and black women are underrepresented in the world of cinema or are represented by stereotypes. I’ve collected the list of some of the best black women movies which you should definitely include in your watchlist.
The approach towards black women in films has not always been the same. It faced huge changes from the birth of the cinema till our days. One thing is undeniable: black women in films had a great impact on movie industry even starting from the early 1900-s.
However, a question arises: are they properly appreciated nowadays? Today the role of black women in films has faced cordial changes and has nothing common with the past. So, let’s refer to history and explore the role of black women in films in past and today.
Black Women in Films in the First Half of the 29th Century
The first century of the film industry was not very welcoming towards black actors and actresses. However, the industry started changing since the 20th century. Little by little, every year you could see more black actors and actresses in the movies.
The black actresses like Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Viola Davis became one of the most demanded stars in Hollywood. Black women started being judged not by the color of their skin, but by their talents.
Wondering about black women in films during the first half of 20th century? Well, though they were not highly encouraged in Hollywood, there were a number of not less talented black women in films, such as Hattie McDaniel, Lena Home, Ruby Dee etc.
However, they were not given leading roles, or let’s say, they were not appreciated enough.Many people watched their movies without knowing their names.
The first black women who were awarded Academy Awards for the nomination of the best Actress was Dorothy Dandridge.
The Role of Black Women in Films as Actresses and Directors
The image and the representation of black women in films have completely changed. Black women in Hollywood have their respectable place and it’s impossible to imagine the modern cinematography without them.
Though the number of black women in films as movie directors is not huge. Black female movie directors are a great rarity in the film industry, which very often raises displeasure. Many think that it’s challenging for a female movie director in the film industry and it becomes even more challenging for the women of color.
Let’s have a look at the list: those black women in films. These movies include either those that are based on true events and those that are fictional.
Black Women in Films 1) Hidden Figures
In the list of black women movies, this movie is always one of the firsts that comes to my mind. The movie is based on a true story.
Events take us back in 1960-s. It is about three women who work in NASA and who frequently face racial discrimination because of the color of their skin. Racial oppression was something common at that time.
However, they are not ordinary black women. They have that extremely rare circumstance of being in NASA, which is not an eight tas.
These talented women have to face and overcome huge racial barriers built for them. Despite their immense role in the expeditions they don’t have access to many documents and are allowed to do what others “needed” them to do.
In fact, their mathematical skills are something unique. Katheryn one of the main characters from the group of aspiring engineers is basically creating an entirely new field of science.
These women have their goals and are enthusiastic about reaching them, however, the field they are working is practically using their intelligence and giving back nothing instead.
Their talents and professional qualities are ignored which made them fight back for the injustice harshly. The title of the movie depicts the upsetting reality exactly how it is.
Despite their immense work and input, their names were not captured in history.
Black Women in Films 2) The Help
The next movie in my list is called “The Help”. This is a very special one and I can confidently put it in the list of best films of all times that reflect racial injustice. Emma Stone took the leading role in this film.
Her character arrives at Mississippi for a job and sees the condition in which black women are put. On the top of that, she noticed the discrimination that these women have to face every day.
So, she decides to start interviewing those women about their life and experience. During the sessions of interviews, it gets clear how horrible black women are treated.
The roles of two of the housemaids played Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Each of these black women in film has her own story to tell. The interviews have a huge positive impact on their lives.
The wave of black women who wanted to tell their stories became larger and larger. The voices of those black women became heard finally, even more, they appeared at the center of attention. Just make sure you don’t skip this movie from the list.
Black Women in Films 3) The color purple
If you guys like old-ish movies then have a look at this one. “The color purple” is an Oscar-nominated movie directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the famous same-titled novel by Alice Walker.
The movie was shot in 1985. It is about a black woman who is struggling and seeking for her respectable place in this world. Main events in the movie take place in early 1900-s.
Yeah, there are two major challenges for fulfilling her wishes during those times. One: she is a woman and two, she is black.
Whoopi Goldberg stars in the main role. Actually, there was a quite a big backlash connected with the actress. Many people were wondering why a comedian was chosen for this “serious” role. However, Whoopi made those trash-talkers shut up by rocking it.
Here you can see another rising star, great Oprah Winfrey where she played Sophia. Later she confessed that if it wasn’t “the color purple” she wouldn’t be the Oprah that we know.
The movie had a huge success. It was nominated for seven times and won a number of awards. The Color Purple is also considered one of the best moves by Steven Spielberg which brought fame to her.
Black Women in Films 4) Set it Off
“Set it off” was directed by Gary Gray. The movie is about four black women. One of the characters works for the bank, which gets robbed. The Executives of the bank decide to fire her, just because the robber turns out to be from the same neighborhood as that woman.
So, she finds a new job for her, where she meets the other three main characters of the movie.
Ok, let’s stop here, I’m not going to spoil the movie. All I’m saying is that you’ll definitely get emotional!
Black Women in Films 5) Love and Basketball
Now let’s switch to a little romance. “Love and Basketball” is a cute love story about a man and a woman who grew up together and one beautiful day they realized were born for each other.
However, everything seems not so easy. They face a lot of challenges for reaching each other. The career path of a great basketball player was not always easy to combine with love and relations.
Black Women in Films 6) Waiting to Exhale
Now let’s move to modern days and see how it is to be an African American woman nowadays. The 4 main characters of the movie are black women who have their special goals to work, earn money and finally find their love.
Here you can see such games as Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett starring in the main roles of the move. By the way, this movie is very often associated with the “Sex and the city”. Many people find they are much alike.
Everything seems okay and they seem to be on the right track on the way to pursue their goals. However, things get complicated when it comes to men and relationships. One thing remains clear for them: Friendship comes first!
Black Women in Films 7) Dreamgirls
This great musical is one of the best among black women movies list. It is based on the 1981 Broadway musical. So, it takes about 25 years to get the musical back on the screen.
The movie is based on the biography of Diana Ross and the Supremes. However, many events in the movie are quite fictional and not very tightly connected to the reality.
Th 3 main characters of the movie are starred by Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson and also Anika Noni Rose. Here you can also see Eddie Murphy playing James Early. By the way, the movie was Jennifer Hudson’s debut in the movie industry.
Black Women in Films 8) What’s Love Got to do with it
The movie depicts the life of an extraordinary woman who is hard not to recognize. The title of the movie will definitely prompt you who the movie is about. Yeah, you’re right: the movie is the greatest singer of all times, Tina Turner.
Angela Bassett plays Tina in the movie and she completely rocks it. The movie won Grammy Awards for best music film by the way. So, if you’re a fan of Tina Turner and haven’t watched this movie, what are you waiting for?
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