The term blaxploitation was created by former film publicist Junius Griffin in the early 1970s. It is considered the first genre to regularly feature predominately all-Black casts as well as soundtracks that were comprised of soul and funk music. During this time, the storylines focused on a wide range of topics with underlying social and political commentary, including the war on “The Man” better known as white supremacy.
To date, the genre’s role in helping shed light on race relations has been extremely controversial. Many critics believed the leading ladies of blaxploitation films were either perpetuating the stereotypes set forth by white America or shattered the glass ceiling by becoming a symbol for Black female identity and Black empowerment. Let’s take a look at some of the women pioneers from Pam Grier to Trina Parks who paved the way during the blaxploitation era.
As the original Foxy Brown, Pam Grier is most notably known for her roles in films such as Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974). Although heavily criticized, she went against societal standards by showcasing nudity and acting out violent scenes on the big screen. In 1997, she paid tribute to the blaxploitation era when cast in the movie Jackie Brown by film director Quentin Tarantino.