Black women in film 


Collage by J'nyah Peace, Photos from IMDb

The culture and beauty of the black experience in America inspire black women in cinema. Dazzling pride in the unique customs of black America shines through their media and artworks. These innovative films cast black leads to bring their flicks to life.

J'nyah Peace, Reporter

During Summer 2021, Nia DaCosta’s breakout modern, harrowing interpretation of the legend “Candyman” grossed over $22.4 million dollars in its opening weekend. A year previous, black female director, Stella Meghie, experienced a million dollar opening weekend for her lovely drama, “The Photograph”, encapsulating artistic black love in a two-hour romance. Cinema frequently neglected Black female voices and when their films debuted, the grossing never reached levels like this in the past years. The presence of black voices in art and media takes credit for the source of the newfound success in the minds behind the movies. 

DaCosta’s record-breaking success this summer broke boundaries for Black women and the cinema industry. DaCosta’s remake of 1992’s “Candyman” added modern twists with horror stories incorporating true instances in black history. 

“There are so many more black filmmakers working, and so many different kinds of genres today, so I’m really excited about that and I’m excited to be a part of that,” DaCosta said

DaCosta’s horror piece, co-wrote with Jordan Peele, who also calls on the Black American experience to complete his films, continued to dominate the box office with $77 million-grossing worldwide. DaCosta’s film will become one of several “firsts” that have emerged in modern black cinema. Black female filmmakers have only recently started receiving nominations for their media. 

Ground-breaking Ava DuVernay created most of the incredible works that allowed for black women’s media to shine in the 2010s. In 2012, DuVernay’s “Selma” earned a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Director for Motion Picture”. Since the Golden Globes’ creation in 1944, a black woman has never received a nomination for a Golden Globe in this category.  In combination with the film’s purpose of painting a historical picture of the Selma marches and its success in civil rights activism, DuVernay’s nomination held a special significance in the black community. DuVernay’s interpretation of the classic “Wrinkle in Time” made her the first black female director in history to direct a movie with a $100 million dollar budget. 

“It was amazing to see the movie and the representation in a story I loved so much. Disney really stepped out by sponsoring Ava DuVernay and allowing her to incorporate diversity. The film’s character wasn’t originally black in the story so I liked how she added a black girl as the main character,” junior Zia Tomlin said.

After “Wrinkle in Time”’s success, DuVernay reinforced her importance in black filmmaking by inspiring hopeful minority creatives. In the Summer of 2021, shortly after “Candyman”’s record-breaking weekend, DuVernay went on to announce her partnership with Google to gift over $500,000 in grants to Black creatives

“Having started my filmmaking journey by self-funding projects, this is a full-circle moment,” DuVernay said

Since her creation of the “Array film collective”, DuVernay’s mission to fund black creators to succeed flourished into a larger organization, ultimately catching the attention of Google. The Array collective and its tools continue to pave the way for other future black filmmakers. 

Sisters in Cinema, founded in the late 1990s, aims to highlight and celebrate films crafted by black women. This Chicago non-profit organization strives to inspire female and black media makers in an industry that originally did not create a space for them to flourish. The platform gained more than 10 sponsors helping fund their cause. Other online sources like Black Women Directors Co. highlight works from black female creators. The website market itself contains a digital library to view cinema and features popular films or upcoming films on its front page. Websites and resources like these aid in empowering black voices in media and providing information to understand and explore the importance of Black female cinema. 

As movements like #BlackLivesMatter bring black voices to light, cinema from black voices shine as well. The new ideas and hunger for representation in the past decade push for the recognition of black women in film. In addition, nominations and accolades that their cinema and creations rightfully deserve. The newfound acceptance in the media will inspire black creatives to enter Hollywood in the future.