There's so much to be said about black women who not only beat the odds, but do it with power, class, style and dignity. And who doesn't need a dose of inspiration right now in the form of a good show or film depicting us living in our truths, pursuing our passions, bossing up, overcoming obstacles, and pulling one another up to continue a legacy? Check out this list of 10 TV shows and films that give us life and teaches us how to conquer it. Pass the popcorn, sis!
This TV One series has gone deep into the real professional and personal journeys of some of our favorite entertainers and bosses, including Eve, Tisha Campbell, and Tyra Banks. Watching this show is like having spiked sweet tea with that favorite cool auntie who has seen it all, done it all, and came out on top. The latest shows feature Debbie Allen, the dance industry legend behind TV and film hits including A Different World and Amistad, and our favorite TV mom Jenifer Lewis (of Black-ish and Think Like a Man, Too). (Watch via TV One.)
The Forty-Year-Old Version
If the title isn't clever enough to peak your interest, the lead character, an unfulfilled teacher who morphs into a rapper named Rahdamus Prime, should at least raise an eyebrow. The Forty-Year-Old Version proves that 40 might actually be the new 20, and that even if you're years away from even thinking about a mid-life crisis, changing gears to pursue what really makes your heart sing shouldn't be something that has an age requirement. (Watch via Netflix.)
Uzo Aduba won an Emmy for her portrayal of a Washington, D.C. mom you don't want to play with. The film is inspired by the story of Virginia Walden Ford, a woman affectionately called "Miss Virginia" who fought to create a scholarship program for her son and children in her community. Up against systemic racism, economic hardship and even her own fear of public speaking, she was able to get legislation passed that would ensure access to safe, high-quality schools for at-risk youth everywhere. (Watch via Netflix.)
Oge Egbuonu, a Nigerian-American director who's gotten a major co-sign from celebs including Halle Berry, offers an amazing portrait of black female resilience and intellectual prowess. This film is our history told via our lens---as they should be, and it includes authentic narratives covering the history of black women in the U.S. The scholars featured include Patricia Hill Collins, a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, Joy DeGruy, a leading publisher and author on the intersection of racism, trauma and violence, and Ruha Benjamin, sociologist and an associate professor at Princeton University, along with other activists and educators. (Watch via Vimeo.)
Seeing a black woman behind the bench instead of in front of it as a defendant is always a good look. Simone Missick, the actress who made history playing kick-ass superhero Misty Knight in Luke Cage, shines as a Lola Carmichael, a former prosecutor and Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. If you love a good crime drama, this fictional series that gets into the thick of the drama of working in the legal system is a perfect pick to binge on. (Watch via Amazon.)
Set to be released in November, this British series follows a group of recent college graduates competing for a limited number of permanent seats at a top London investment bank. Myha'la Herrold plays a young woman named Harper who confidently rocks box braids and a nose ring in a cut-throat environment run by entitled white men. She arrives in London from New York and sets her eyes on winning over executives, facing tough opposition among the global elite. (Watch via HBO.)
This show, in its own ingeniously shocking way, mixes sci-fi with the realities of racism and comes just at the right time. If the slaying of wicked wizards masquerading as cops, time travel of black women seeking to tap into their voice and rename themselves victorious, or in-your-face depictions of the horrors in murdering innocent black folk aren't enough, just watch for the sheer magnificence of black female acting prowess in the likes of Jurnee Smollett, Wunmi Mosaku, Aunjanue Ellis, and Jada Harris. These women will literally have you screaming, crying, laughing, and gasping all in one sitting, and that's just after watching one episode. (Watch via HBO Max.)
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
She's a Nobel Prize winner who is known for her best-selling books that have had Oprah, Michelle Obama and Beyonce raving, and her legacy as a truth-teller and advocate for women's voices is undeniable. This film gets into the what, when, and why of Morrison's life as a writer and educator who got her start in New York as the first black woman senior editor in Random House's fiction department. It includes exclusive interviews, detailed accounts of how her books came to be, and the people in her life who inspired her. (Watch via Amazon.)
A Ballerina's Tale
Get a behind-the-scenes view of the life, struggles, and triumphs of Misty Copeland, the first African-American principal ballerina of the American Ballet Theatre. What's interesting and a bit bittersweet about this first is that it happened in 2015, more than 70 years after the prestigious global dance powerhouse was founded. In the film, you get to know Copeland, her family and the people who are part of her rise in becoming a pioneer and inspiration for girls all over the world. (Watch via Amazon.)
About Her Business Series
If hard work and no excuses were people, this series would be their life stories. Launched by BET Her, these shows include tell-it-like-it-is insights from contemporary entrepreneurs who have literally turned nothing into something to become self-made global brands and millionaires. Get your life and your motivation via the likes of bosses including IG sensation and founder of The Crayon Case, Reynell "Supa Cent" Steward, Mane Choice CEO Courtney Adeleye, Slutty Vegan restaurateur Pinky Cole and xoNecole's own Necole Kane. These millennials have taken the baton from their predecessors and have proven they can hold their own and inspire a whole new generation of go-getters and financial success stories.
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