6 Black women absolutely dominating the television and film industry
If you don’t know their names, you probably would know their works: Greys Anatomy, Power, Selma, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Queen and Slim, or Just Right.
Shonda Rhimes, Debra Martin Chase, Courtney Kemp, Ava Du Vernay, Robin Thede, and Lena Waithe are just a few of the lady bosses that are changing the television and film industry forever. So, let me introduce them individually:
If you are looking for a winning project, Shonda Rhimes might be the answer. The award-winning producer, show-runner, and writer have become the go-to woman to work in Hollywood.
She started her career as an intern for Debra Martin Chase, she worked as a writer while still being in college.
In 2015 she blessed the drama world with the two winners of the best drama series: Grey’s Anatomy. Soon, ABC’s “Thursday Night” turned into “Shonda Night”, with back to back episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with murder and Scandal — all created by her.
Debra Martin Chase
Her love for storytelling was inherited from her father. In 1995 she met Denzel Washington at an event, both artists found themselves interested in the same content. And, a week after this encounter, Debra was running Denzel’s company.
In 1997, she the executive produced of Cinderella, starring brandy and Whitney Houston. “It always bothered that I never saw me,” she said when talking about the movies she liked. And, like a true boss, she took matters into her hands.
Debra became the first African American Producer (not women-producer, JUST producer) to work at a major studio: Disney. And for more than 20 years, she’s been working on content that represents all of “us” — women of the world.
Talking about change and power, let’s not forget about the mastermind behind Power (the TV Show), Courtney Kemp. The perfect example of a series that merges violence, power, sex, and romance — themes which Kemp is obsessed with.
When she first pitched the idea, it was 50 Cent, Chris Light, and “100 other dudes” in the room. For the first time ever, “it was the girl” who everyone was listening to.
To no one’s surprise, Power has grabbed the attention of its viewers for 6 years. Now she has signed a deal with Lionsgate that would allow her to keep working in Power and many other projects.
But the queen of awards is Ana DuVernay. The first African American woman to win the best director prize at the Sundance Film Festival for the feature Middle of Nowhere in 2012.
She started working as a publicist, in fact, she didn’t pick up a camera until she was 32 years old. Once she did, however, she hasn’t dropped the camera nor the awards that come with it.
Her groundbreaking work directing Selma (2014) not only landed her an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, but it also established her name in the Academy and around the world. Now, her documentary, 13th (nominated for best documentary (2016), was becoming even more popular at the time favorite given that it teaches about racial discrimination and oppression.
(Not to mention that she is also the first Black woman to direct a $100 million budget film: A Wrinkle in Time)
Robin Thede is perhaps the best example of women’s power to multitask. She is the creator, writer, executive producer, and leading lady in A Black Lady Sketch Show. Comedy series that has been nominated for three Primetime Emmy’s.
And her talent goes beyond tv series, Robin Thede was the first African American Women to be the head for Late Night Shows. She started writing for the White House Correspondents Dinners (2016) and she was also the head writer for Comedy’s Central The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore.
Robin was also the critically-acclaimed host of the late-night show: Rundown with Robin Thede.
You probably recognize her for her role as Helen in Ready Player One, or for being the mastering behind Queen and Slim’s screenplay, but Lena Waithe has talent far beyond acting to offer.
Before being the first black woman to be nominated and win an Emmy for her writing in The Master of None, Lena hustled her way up in the industry.
She started her career being the assistant to the executive producer of Girlfriends, the sitcom. After receiving great recommendations from Mara Brock Akil (The Game producer) director Gina Price-Bythewood took Lena to work with her for Love & Basketball. Women ruling the game!
Later, went on as the production assistant for both The Secret Life of Bees and Notorious. Until 2014, she served as a producer for the popular show Dear White People. That same year she was offered her first role as an actress in The Comeback TV series. This role opened the doors for multiple other jobs in TV and film.