“Be not discouraged Black women of the world, but push forward, regardless of the lack of appreciation shown you.” – Amy Jacques Garvey
In 2015, when accepting her Emmy Award for “Best Actress in Drama”, Viola Davis declared, ‘The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity.’
Blessed with such opportunity, Viola along with many other black actors have broken boundaries.
After becoming the first black woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in Drama, she then became the first woman of colour to win five Screen Actors Guild Awards. In 2017 winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, she became the first black actress to receive three nominations and not only was she the first black woman to win the Triple Crown of Acting but the first black person ever.
Earlier this year at the 2017 Emmy’s, Lena With became the first African American woman to win “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series” which she shared with co-star Aziz Ansari for their hit comedy series, Master of None.
Similarly, British actress Michaela Coel was the first black woman to win a BAFTA award for Best Female Comedy Performance in 2016.
Issa Rae, is the first black woman to create and star in her own show on HBO.
While it is disappointing that only in the recent years have there been a lot of firsts for black women in TV and film, these accomplishments alone highlight the broadcasting impact black women now have on not only black women but society as a whole.
Surely these are just awards and achievements, why do I care? Well maybe because as a black woman living in a world where black women are poorly represented, achievements like this portray a small fragment of change in TV and film. Don’t get me wrong there is still quite a long way to go before we see long-lasting, big change. However, to see mainstream awards recognising black female talent, show me that small progression is peaking through in society. Though it may be small, the impact is so much greater.
Very often TV and Film slipped into the poor representation of black women, fulfilling longstanding rigid stereotypes such as the “uneducated black woman” and the “baby mama” or even no notion of black women.
However, in the more recent years, these stereotypes have been defied. We are seeing more strong black woman, more liberated black women and more awkward black women.
So for women who are more representative of myself and many others to make headlines and continuously push boundaries signifies hope.