Pop culture pundits around the country were incensed after Saturday Night Live‘s Michelle Obama sketch poked fun at the lack of diversity within their cast. Now, three up-and-coming creators in the space discuss the state of Black women on the boob tube.
Essence Magazine recently released a study where respondents unanimously agreed that the images portrayed involving Black women only “scratch the surface”. The video below spotlights three of the most talented content creators in the small-screen space: Andrea Lewis (Black Actress), Lena Waithe (Dear White People), and Issa Rae (Awkward Black Girl). These innovative minds have all used the web to enhance their reputations as content creators, yet say that there is an “invisible middle” between the “ratchet” and the “bougie”.
“As Black women we always have, we are always relegated to one image, one impression, one stereotype and that’s the issue,” Rae said in one portion of the chat. “It’s really about the public perception.” The proliferation of reality television and the type of characters they celebrate continue to make an impression on audiences who are looking for anything Black represented on the screen. Rae expressed that even though she watches Love and Hip-Hop, there’s another type of Black woman that isn’t being exposed on the airwaves.
“I know there are a lot of women who aren’t like this,” she said. “The general public and mainstream media tends to pigeonhole us. The opportunities are limited as a result of these shows.” Before YouTube fans and viral video lovers watched Andrea Lewis’s Black Actress show, she was most known for her role as Hazel on Degrassi. Supporting what Rae said, Lewis said that the void of Black women in the space moved her to create her own movement to spotlight women similar to her. “Every part I get is because I’m a Black girl, or I don’t get a part because I’m a Black girl, so my experience has always been so ‘Black girl, Black girl.”
The discussion is clearly an ongoing one, but you can watch the chat in full below.