As a writer, I naturally find myself inspired to create stories and narratives that I am hopeful will one day will be turned into feature length films and TV shows.
Recently, it came to my attention that I rarely allow myself to truly visualise my character’s face, hair, eyes and other distinguishing features. I had subconsciously trained my mind to create ethnic blind characters. This was in the optimistic hope that, when a producer looks at my idea, the pre-established ethnic markers and the estimated projective audience based on these markers, will not hinder my project from being picked up.
However, as a Black woman, aspiring to make it in the traditionally white field of western film, I had to question if this ‘blindness’ was okay? This is due to the fact that opportunities for Black people to penetrate into the film industry are limited. The roles made available for Black actors traditionally fall into one of the 5 typical Black roles. The magical Black person; the Black best friend; the thugs; the brash women and the domestic help.
Thus, intentional or not, I realised I was ignoring an opportunity to be part of the solution in changing the narrative. As creating Black characters, with Black features will inevitably create potential roles for Black actors. Opening more doors and opportunities for them to be shown and portrayed in a light that western filmmaking rarely shines on them.
Thus, in short, I became aware to a fact we must all recognise. In whatever career, field or hobby we partake in, there is always an opportunity for Blacks to create the narrative for other blacks to break through. The way to do this may not always be obvious or conventional, and it may take time. But like my epiphany with my writing, all it takes is a realisation that sometimes for change to come and opportunities to arise, we have to change or create a new narrative ourselves.
By Esther Boomey