Is there a problem with how Black women are portrayed in contemporary media? The answer is yes and no with multiple shades of grey in between.
Actress Andrea Lewis, best known for her role of Hazel Aden on the “Degrassi,” recently tackled this complex question with a group of her Black female friends from the worlds of web, film and television. “Awkward Black Girl” creator Issa Rae, Dear White People producer Lena Waithe, “Hello Cupid” actress Ashley Blaine Featherson and Black & Sexy co-founder Numa Perrier chimed in on their journeys in the industry and what it would take to change the game. Each of the women — who’ve already proven themselves to be game-changers in today’s forever-changing media world — shared their points of view and by the end of the 30-minute conversation, we must admit, we felt inspired by what’s to come.
Check out footage from the roundtable discussion below and be sure to tell us your thoughts on the topic.
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1. Must-Watch Black Web Series
With a general lack of quality Black programming on TV, I went to the internet in search of something to watch that wasn't drink-throwing, name-calling, contrived drama. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found in the form of Black web series. From suspenseful dramas to side-splitting comedy, Black web series are becoming more entertaining than TV. Check out a few of my favorite must-watch series!
2. FIRST | Episode 1 - "The First Date"
Robin and Charles have known each other since middle school, but have their first date in their late 20s. As the day of surprises unfolds, they quickly realize there is more than friendship in their future. Watch them go through their first everything. It's loving, adorable and a blueprint to dating one of your best friends.
3. Close Friends Episode 1 - He Say She Say
Follow the lives of 6 close friends who's tangled web of love, lust and everything in between will leave you on the edge of your seat! With Nathan & Valerie's 15 year love story at the center, you'll be shocked at what tears them apart!
4. HARD Times | Episode 1 - "Inception"
What happens when times are hard for a personal trainer who is just trying to make ends meet? He goes into the wide world of exotic dancing. Yes.
5. Smoke and Mirrors Webseries: Episode 1
"Smoke and Mirrors" centers around the life of newly single, filmmaker Sonny Richard, who must re-acclimate himself to the complexities of male and female relationships, just when he thought he had it all figured out.
6. BLACK Actress | Episode 1 - feat. Tatyana Ali
Presented by Issa Rae of "Awkward Black Girl" fame, Black Actress follows Kori Bailey as she jumps back into auditioning after taking a much needed, brief hiatus. But she begins second guessing herself and the business as she finds that auditions aren't coming as easy as they used to. Before and after each episode, we're greeted by Black actresses in the biz (Reagan Gomez, Tatyana Ali, etc.), who offer tips.
7. Entangled with You - Ep 1 - Just Say It
A young couple in love decide to go their separate ways once Craig (played by Al Thompson) gives his girlfriend, Alisha, a gift she never asked for. Alisha then gets a new roommate after kicking Craig out and drama ensues once we find out Alisha's new roomie is a lesbian.
8. TRUTH UNSPOKEN: Episode # 1 No More Games Web Series
Directed by Ebony J. Lewis, this dramatic series explores how toxic lies and deceit can break the trust in a tumultuous relationship between characters Jay and Tracy. The twists and turns this series gives will keep you on edge.
9. The Couple | Exes & Texts | Ep 1
The Couple is on Black & Sexy TV on YouTube and it follows lovers "Chick" and "Dude" as they navigate their new and quirky relationship. With short episodes detailing how they handle Valentine's Day with another couple or how "Chick" handles meeting "Dude's" mom for the first time, you will fall in love with this couple's honest and real relationship. Great news--they're working on a movie!
10. #Unfamous Ep. 1 | Welcome To Brompton (via @The_Unfamous)
It's very rare that a web series dives into the lives of teens, but this is what "Unfamous" does. It follows the story of Rio Greene’s first year in college and she's tired of being overlooked by her peers, so she devises a plan to make herself "Unfamous." She ends up doing things she thought she'd never do.
11. THAT GUY | The Perfect Girl | 01
The Guy follows "Judah" as he explores his new camera. The entire series is from his POV, except when the women in his life choose to turn the camera on him. "Judah" is a ladies man with a big appetite and his adorable and almost sad sidekick is a loser with a heart of gold. We'll follow "Judah" as he meets a woman who may make him rethink his player ways.
12. Venus vs Mars Pilot Episode
This London-based series is all about Venus and her awful dating life. Beautiful, professional and sweet, Venus should have no issue landing a man, but as it turns out, she does. "Sex & The City" with a urban and proper London accented spin. It's a must-watch!
13. HELLO CUPID | Episode 1 of 10
Hello Cupid follows two roomies as they try to date online. One of them is a wild child and the other is a bit ore reserved. The reserved roomie wasn't getting dates, so she decided to use her wild roomie's photo and ended up falling in love with "Cassius." The twist? Looks like "Cassius" isn't the one who's getting played! Find out what he does to the girl who "Catfished" him.
14. "Roomieloverfriends" | Episode 1 of 9
Black & Sexy TV is on a roll! This web series follows the sordid relationship of roomies, turned lovers. Tamiko and Jay can't seem to figure their relationship out, but are having a lot of fun breaking up to make up. Toss in a jealous ex/current girlfriend and a potential handsome mate for Tamiko and you've got a recipe for disaster.
15. The CHOIR | "Genesis" [S. 1, Ep. 1]
This Issa Rae created series is a dramedy about one church’s attempts to rebuild its dormant choir. There is overtly sexual singing about Christ, "Bow Down" liturgical dance moves and it comments satirically on the Black church experience. Get ready for the laughs with this one.
16. P.O.P. (Power of Pussy) Web Series: Part One
This docuseries is an amazing look into the lives of strippers who work at Magic City in Atlanta. We meet famed stripper, Gigi Maguire and she takes us to her new pole fitness studio, Pole FanAddicts and shows us that a stripper can use her earnings to create a better life. We're also introduced to new strippers from all over the U.S. who have lost their way and have come to Magic City in search for that better life
17. Between Women Episode 1
This lesbian drama doesn't have the best production, but the tense and dramatic story line will draw you in and keep you interested through both seasons. There's love, lust, deception, wealth, death and a tangled web of lovers and friends.
18. Brothers With No Game - The Web Series | Ep 1: The Heskey Role
Set in London, this series is automatically a fave of mine. Honestly, I could listen to that accent all day. This series is based on the blog of the same name and follows four men as they learn to play the dating game. Spoiler alert: They are mostly unsuccessful.
19. Black and Single Ep. 1 - Black and First Dates
Meet "Oni." She's Black and she's single. As soon as we meet her acquaintance, we're thrust into her various first date fails and we're already endeared to her. The interesting twist to this series is that we meet her Black and single male counterpart and immediately, we want them two to meet and fall in love. Their lives intertwine, but do they fall for each other?