I'm the new @BlackGirlNerds TV Editor & I'm excited to get started! I wrote about my feels here.
Last week, I was blessed to have been able to attend a NYWiFT Panel on the current state of black women on screen at Harlem venue My Image Studios (MiST). It was very inspiring and I got to watch Scandal afterwards with a room full of Gladiators. It was pretty amazing. Here are some of the questions and responses below (featuring general essence of their answers, with direct quotes from my notes).
The panelists for the evening were: Neema Barnette, Julie Dash, Sharon Hope, Chenoa Maxwell, and Rachel Watanabe-Batton with Ylana Kellar as the moderator. You can google them and check out their work like I have been. They’ve all been working in Hollywood trying to get the stories of black women told in the right ways and the things they had to say were very inspiring for all future black artists: whether actors, writers, directors, producers, any kind of black content creator.
The questions and answers are below as slides, click one and read through! These ladies were really inspirational and it was great to just be in a room with other like-minded people. Hopefully the roles portrayed by black actresses will continue to expand in number and in character dimension.
“What I love about this list is that it is made up of black women who are content creators. It’s wonderful to have talented actresses in front of the camera, but what we desperately need is more black women behind the camera, shaping the portrayals we see on-screen. Often times we complain that black folks only get awards for playing slaves, maids and prostitutes/pimps. We can change that! The way we change that is to have equally diverse and talented people back-stage as on-stage.”
This is exactly it. Hopefully if we can get more (black, asian, hispanic, all WoC) female content producers, we’ll be able to see more PoC on our screens!
Click through to read more: 2014 is the Year Black Women Take Over Hollywood | Clutch Magazine
The most offensive statement I’ve heard people make is, ‘If 12 Years hadn’t been released in 2013, The Butlerand Fruitvale would have had a better chance.’ Is there only room for one?” – Scott Feinberg
First: Click here and skim Why Is ‘Sleepy Hollow’ A Hit? – Forbes, though I basically summarize it below.
Here are some reasons the Forbes gives for the success of my favorite new show of the season, Sleepy Hollow and some counterarguments.
1. “Choosing a young person, Emily Murray, as ‘Social Media Producer.'”
2. “Using Facebook and Twitter” (duh? What else would you use?), or I guess the point is knowing where your fans are hanging out (which is an excellent point–Castle, Doctor Who, and Supernatural fans rule Tumblr, Scandal and Sleepy Hollow are Twitter hits, no one is really using Facebook for this kind of thing).
3. “Collaborating internally.” I guess this means having the social media team and creatives and marketing people all work together to have gifs and images ready for the twitter experience; all of that requires multiple departments to work with the social media guys.
4. Focusing on the product, not the company.” or I guess, creating a community around the show not the network, but this is what every show does. Every show has a twitter account and makes it about the show. This isn’t a special thing Sleepy Hollow is doing.
5. Getting the actors to tweet. Yes, this is a huge helping, which they learned from shows like Scandal. Get everyone on board and people will retweet behind the scenes info or Orlando Jones being a hilarious doofball mentioning fanfiction and gifs in his tweets.
6. The twitter account having a back and forth “fight” with the twitter account from rival network show Elementary. Yes, this was funny to see and contributed to word of mouth.
But the article, which is definitely tech/social media focused, didn’t at all think about the show or the fans it draws. Other shows do these very same things. They have show specific twitter accounts. They try to get their actors to live tweet. They have the marketing department draw up designs and posters that work with their live tweeting efforts. These aren’t the only factors.
The audience is a major factor, and who is in Sleepy Hollow‘s audience? The same kinds of people who are in Scandal’s audience. Young black (females mostly, but some males who reluctantly admit they watch either or both shows) people (what these young people call Black Twitter). The media hasn’t yet caught on that young African-Americans LOVE Twitter. And if you give us a show with a black lead, we will watch that show (because we don’t have many options with that factor, so we watch the ones that do until there are more options). And we will tweet about it to our other African-American friends on Twitter. And shows like Sleepy Hollow and Scandal, both with a black female lead, will skyrocket to the top of the tv ratings and social media discussion charts. Oh, but we don’t talk about this being a factor, do we? Nor do we discuss the fact that the person doing the most tweeting and connecting with the fans is Orlando Jones, a person of color. These things are certainly important.
Other shows have tried to mimic the formula of Scandal. They’ve done the same social media things that Sleepy Hollow is doing. And yet they’re not ratings phenomena. All because the networks and media coverage are hesitant to acknowledge the real reason these shows are blowing up: because people want to see diversity on their TV screens. They are more likely to tune in. They are more likely to tell their black/asian/hispanic/white/etc friends about it. And then the show get super popular and gets renewed for the next season 4 episodes in, like Sleepy Hollow did.
Don’t let social media take all the credit for this show’s success. I know that’s what the article was about, but in a discussion about social media, you should discuss the people who use social media, and their various idiosyncrasies. That’s the real way of understanding how to use it and what platforms are best.
via Watch: Ava DuVernay’s Filmmaker Keynote Address At 2013 Film Independent Forum | Shadow and Act.
I haven’t seen any of Ava DuVernay’s work yet, but I loved this keynote address and think it’s useful for anyone who is a media creator/artist. (She’s also directing an upcoming episode of Scandal, episode 308, so I’ll get to see a bit of her style then.)
All of the things that we try to do while trying to move forward in the industry is time not working on your screenplay [insert what your art is & what you’re supposed to be doing to work on it]. All the time you’re focusing– trying to grab– ‘I need this, I need this, I don’t have this–‘, you’re being desperate, you’re not doing. All that stuff is not active, it’s not moving you forward. All of the so called ‘action’ is hinging on someone doing something for you. Does that make sense? […]
The only thing that moves you forward is your work. […]
If you channel your desperation towards things you have, it’s passion. If you channel it towards things you don’t have, it’s desperation. It’s stagnation. […]
My whole thing, what I want is to be making films as a senior citizen. When I look at senior citizens making films, they’re only white guys. There’s no black, female Woody Allen. Or Mike Nichols. Like Clint Eastwood? Just imagine a bad ass black woman, walking like Clint, ‘I don’t care! I’m gonna say whatever I wanna say!” You’re old as hell, you’ve made a gang of films, say what you wanna say! I wanna be her. Old and making films. American women making films, black women making films into old age, actively and consistently. I wanna be Werner Herzog, I have so many films, I don’t know their names. I wanna be that. […] I just want consistency and longevity.
Watch the whole thing, you may get a nugget of something.
(While you’re here, check out my other Sleepy Hollow posts from last season)
Can Jasmine Guy please play the Mills’
mom* auntie on Sleepy Hollow? (The mother is “dead,” but on this type of show, that’s easily undone.) There’s a fierceness in the eyes and eyebrows that are similar between Jasmine and Lyndie! As far as I know, the two aren’t at all related.
The popularity of this post skyrockets whenever Jenny is on screen! There are usually a bunch of google searches for the two actresses’ names together. Glad I’m not the only one who shares this idea!
*Aunjanue Ellis has been cast as Mama Mills, but there’s still auntie or ancestor or evil cousin…
**Aunjanue Ellis has the eyebrows for it. I approve.