Black Personalities Changing the Entertainment Industry – by Alex Ololade

cast of black panther at the guild awards

The entertainment industry spans a huge range of platforms and media. Film, television, art, social media, and music are integral parts of international culture and people across the world consume the products of these industries. Within the Black community across the world, there is so much space for expression and enjoyment through music, dance, and art. With so much talent, it is undeniably essential to the progress of the entertainment industry that Black people are regarded as pioneers.

Just a few of the Black personalities changing the entertainment world within the last decade are Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Trevor Noah, Beyoncé, Burna Boy, Stormzy, Viola Davis, John Boyega, Michaela Coel, Jordan Peele, Zuhair Hassan (aka Big Zuu), Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe.

I have a love of film, cinema, and music and believe it is important that more Black creators are celebrated and awarded for their contributions to these industries. Their works give the younger generations hope and aspirations to make their mark on the industry.

British screenwriter and actress Michaela Coel is one of the many Black creatives changing the entertainment industry. Within her work, she addresses the world, tells her own story, and shares the stories of other women who have experienced violence and assault, in a way that is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Coel’s ability to articulate and be vulnerable about her personal stories is something to be continually celebrated. The courage and talent shown by Coel encourages Black people to stay committed to their craft, tell their story, and be heard. Coel’s contributions to the entertainment industry will be impactful for many years to come.

Within the film industry, the stories told within films such as ‘The Woman King’, ‘Harriet’, and ‘Hidden Figures’ showcase history while educating and entertaining people in a transformative way. For example without the film ‘Hidden Figures’ many people would not have known that the early stages of the US NASA space program had a team of female African-American mathematicians working on it and changing the course of history for America and the world. In addition, historical figures such as Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are being celebrated for their achievements and contributions years after the fact because of the way actors like Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe communicate their legacy through film.

One of my favourite artists is the British rapper, singer, and songwriter, Stormzy. Pretty much everyone can remember the 2019 Glastonbury set where he wore the Bansky vest and spoke to many people’s hearts through his music. During his set, he commented on many issues in the UK including Grenfell Tower, the Government, and the treatment of the Black community. His performance was heartfelt, inspiring, and ground-breaking with Stormzy being the first UK rapper to headline Glastonbury; it was a performance to influence a generation.

Daniel Kaluuya is another excelling Black personality in the entertainment industry. Kaluuya does a multitude of work from acting, directing, screenwriting, and performing. He actively brings up newcomers in the industry and holds space for young Black talent. Daniel has also succeeded in theatre, film, and television where many Black actors have previously struggled to succeed. He has worked on a number of projects through writing and producing, showing the younger generation looking up to him and others like him that there is space for Black creatives. There are many things we want and need to say to the world, Daniel is an example that the industry is beginning to respond to the amazing work the Black community has to offer.

These hugely talented creatives have an acute impact on the entertainment industry. They make waves through representation, performance excellence, accolades, demonstrating success, or standing up for the Black community in their work and with their voices. The actors, screenwriters, artists, directors, presenters, and musicians listed here are only a few of the Black personalities shaping this industry.

If you want to find out more about Black History Month at Reading visit the events page and see what’s planned.

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