TV Guide‘s panel, “Rise of the Black Superheroes | Are Black Women Finally Flying High on TV,” was featured at this year’s NYCC 2020. This part of the virtual convention highlighted a candid conversation with four dynamic Black women within Hollywood’s “geek culture” behind the camera, including Keisha Hatchett as moderator, writer/producer Aida Croal, journalist and geek influencer Karama Horne, aka theblerdgurl, actor/stuntwoman Carrie Bernans and Emmy-winning director/producer Neema Barnette.
Why are we seeing the push for more Black women in the superhero space?
“From a fan perspective, black fans have been trying to say for a minute, we’re trying to see ourselves represented in all forms of entertainment … Black Panther was a long time coming. Also, in terms of the fans of social media, Black women run it. Black Twitter is run by Black women.” — Karama
“Having the opportunity to work with Aida on Luke Cage, I just have to mention how important it is to have Black women, which Aida is, as a hero behind the lens.” — Neema
“The rise with culture now with the Trayvon Martin case and all of these things are becoming more at the forefront of news, and it’s driving media and entertainment to see a different story on screen. It’s beautiful now we have more white allies and more people willing to band with us to bring these characters to life.” — Carrie
What were some of the challenges that came with writing these Black characters and making sure what you present stays authentic to not only yourself, but to others as well?
“It starts in the writers room. You have to choose those writers well and make sure you put together a diverse room, but a room that can really bring depth and complexity to the black experience from so many different sides. You’re working with studio and network partners, and you have to communicate a vision. You have to be able to play that game of getting these people on your side, but at the same time sometimes the things that you’re saying, they don’t relate to you. They don’t understand and you have to find a way to say, ‘Even if you don’t understand this or know about this, you have to trust us.’” — Aida
How do you think the superhero landscape changed for Black women specifically [after Black Panther]?
“I don’t think it changed as much as it could have. If you look at the history of filmmaking and TV in this country, years ago people said the same thing about Spike Lee and John Singleton, like, ‘We’ve made it, we’re here, Black folks are in Hollywood, we’re getting all the things.’ All of a sudden, years after Boyz n the Hood, Black folks weren’t getting that work. It was almost like a flash in the pan. It was what was popular. I think there are more people now, this year, looking at creating black superheroes and creating projects with Black characters in lead roles that are well written because of the times that we’re in. I think it’s an aggregate. I don’t think it’s one thing that did it. Black Panther helped prove that people that are not just black will watch a superhero movie with a lead Black character in it.” — Karama
For those that have been in this industry for a very long time, how do you get past the barriers? How do we create those opportunities for more people across the board?
“Awareness. I’ve personally had PAs come through just by talking to people that were in a neighborhood where I was shooting, but we also have to do a better job of letting our communities know that these are jobs that you can do and this is a path.” — Aida
“I was that bold girl that would hustle on a set. I’d look for the stunt coordinator and producer. There needs to be programs designed specifically for us and our people in order to really educate and push forward.” — Carrie
Where do you see the superhero landscape shifting in possibly the next two years or where would you like to see it?
“Martha Washington. I’m ready for her on the small screen. There’s a great, ongoing story to be told about that character that’s navigating America post-Civil War.” — Aida
“I would love to see a black Wolverine. Let’s bring that to life.” — Carrie
“Our films make money with black skin all over the world, so it’s an exciting time.” — Neema
Are there any Black female superheroes you would like to see portrayed on screen? Drop us a comment on any of our social feeds!
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