COMMENTARY: Diversity In Film… How Far Have We Come.. How Far To Go?

Cast of Moonlight
Cast of ‘Moonlight’ poses backstage with their award for Best Motion Picture — Drama at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles January 8, 2017 — Reuters pic

This Sunday on Hashtag we’ll be discussing diversity in Hollywood. How important is it for minorities to see themselves represented on the big screen? If the response to Black Panther is any indication, the answer is very important. Important and needed. Black Panther has sparked a resurgence in interest in African culture like no film has in recent memory.

Moonlight, Get Out, Black Panther .. coming soon.. A Wrinkle In Time .. films with diverse casts and directors are winning awards and dominating the box office. Progress is being made, how far have we come? How far to go?

Get Out Poster

Get Out is up for four Oscar’s at tonight’s academy awards. It feels as though many are hanging their hopes on Get Out winning Best Picture as an indication of progress. A pet peeve I’ve always had with the Oscars has been its tendency to ignore blockbusters and films that generally dominate the box office. It’s usually the art house, small budget films not a lot of people have seen that win Oscars.

I don’t believe a Best Picture win for Get Out should be a barometre for progress where diversity is concerned in film. Let us not forget Moonlight did win Bet Picture last year. That felt like progress.  Get Out broke box office records last year and gave Jordan Peele the keys to Hollywood. Another Black director now has the opportunity to continue to tell interesting stories from a Black perspective. Get Out flipped stereotypes on their head, in way we’ve never seen before in a film.

Writer, Director Jordan Peele
Writer, Director Jordan Peele

Diverse films are not only winning Oscars, they’re dominating the box office. Get Out was last year’s top grossing film. Black Panther may very well go onto to be this year’s top grosser at the pace it’s been bringing in money. Only Avengers: Infinity War will have a shot at dethroning Black Panther as this year’s box office champ.

The Black Panther Cast, San Diego Comic-Con
The Black Panther Cast, San Diego Comic-Con

How far do we have to go? What I believe is important going forward; diversity is needed as much behind the camera, as in front. We need more diverse directors, producers, writers, and so on.. that starts with the kids.  If Black Panther or A Wrinkle In Time inspires a young Black kid to want to be the next Ryan Coogler, or Ava DuVernay, now that’s progress! I’ll take that over an Oscar any day; now you’re talking my language.

Kids at
Ron Clark Academy 5th grader Saige Cabral, 10, joins classmates in watching the film “Black Panther” at Atlantic Station theaters in Atlanta


(BTW, I’m still rollin’ “Team Issa” style and rooting for everybody Black to win.. sorry, not sorry.)