By Tiffany Unscripted
Growing up black had its challenges, but I never allowed it to be detrimental to my life. I knew I had to work harder than most to succeed. No problem. I’m used to working hard to achieve my goals. My parents taught me the value of hard work and how to live my life without restraints.
They also taught me the value of being a black woman in a world where we are so misunderstood. Television and media continue to portray us as loud, angry, and overly sassy. In films and television series, we're typically cast as maids, nannies, and mistresses to married men, despite the real-life accomplishments we have achieved as doctors, attorneys, entrepreneurs and CEOs of successful corporations.
It is so important to feature black people, particularly women, in a positive light. We're not all gangbangers, con artists, and hoodrats. This is why it was thrilling to see movies such as Hidden Figures and Queen of Katwe.
These inspirational films were actual events, not fictional tales. The films succeeded in sharing true stories and messages of hope, ambition, and that anything is possible. You can accomplish any goals you have set. You can leap hurdles in a single bound. It is "you" who is the superhero, with a strength that is ten times greater than negativity. Courage is your shield. Fear is your motivator.
Check out the films below. It's a powerful mix of true stories and factual events experienced by some of the most prolific people in history.
James Baldwin was an utterly brilliant writer and intellectual who was called "the blackest man who ever lived." He was proud of his heritage. He was stubborn in his ways. He was notable for his unpublished writing about the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X.
His work will make you cry out for strong leadership in this increasingly divisive society. I Am Not Your Negro will empower you to be who you were meant to be in life, and, especially, to be proud of what you have become.
Music producer Pharrell Williams produced the film. It was important for him to bring the stories of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) to life.
These women helped shape NASA's space program. They played a vital role in launching John Glenn and the Friendship 7 into space in the early 1960s.
Pharrell also wrote the original songs for the soundtrack. The score gave the film added depth and meaning.
The most incredible part about the making of this film is how Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Jim Parsons, director Theodore Melfi, and producer/musical creator Pharrell Williams partnered with non-profit groups to offer free screenings to Hidden Figures at several cinema locations.
This campaign was started by Octavia Spencer, who wanted to ensure that everyone had a chance to see this powerful film. She sponsored more than 1,500 theater seats for those who wouldn't have otherwise had an opportunity to see the film.
This act of generosity spawned additional screenings, with Monáe sponsoring a screening in Atlanta. Henson sponsoring a screening in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Parsons sponsoring a screening in Houston. Melfi and actress/co-producer Kimberly Quinn sponsoring a screening in Hazelwood, Missouri. Pharrell sponsoring a screening in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Madiba stars Laurence Fishburne as Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and former president of South Africa. It is a six-part miniseries that chronicles Nelson Mandela's early life, when he started a movement for justice and freedom in the racially charged South Africa during the 1960s. It shows the sacrifices he made and also he helped end the oppressive regime of institutionalized racism and segregation known as apartheid.
Here's a fun fact for you: the name Madiba is a clan/family surname. It is unclear which clan Mandela belonged to. However, the name Madiba is a title of great respect and admiration. According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the origin of Madiba was founded during a chief’s rule during 18th century South Africa.
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay sheds a bright light on the history of racial inequality in the United States. In her documentary, she focuses on our nation's prison system, showing how they're disproportionately packed with African-Americans, which could be considered a form of modern slavery. This is based on research by journalists, academics, researchers, and historians, who analyzed the prison system's industrious traits.
The title of the film refers to the 13th amendment of the United States Constitution, which reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”
Free black men fought bravely in the Union Army during the Civil War. The irony is their sacrifice didn't protect them from racism and segregation. Members of the United States' first all-African-American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, are immortalized in this film that is one of the best movies ever made about the Civil War.
The slum life of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda was all 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) knew. It was a constant struggle for her and her family, until she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a missionary who teaches children how to play chess. Phiona is so fascinated with the game that she was able to push her hardship aside and master a game of skill and intellect. Soon Phiona is winning tournaments that become a gateway to a better life and an amazing future for herself and her family. This film will make you laugh, cry, and shout for joy! It is based on a true story.
It is my hope that these films will raise awareness. Black people have always been, and continue to be, an integral part of American history. We are inventors of some of the greatest products in use today, such as the three-signal traffic light (Garrett Morgan), laser cataract surgery (Patricia Bath), and the blood bank (Charles Drew, M.D.). Thank you for reading! Feel free to comment and share.
Tiffany Unscripted has been the Managing Editor of Your Film Review for over two years at Occhi Magazine. She manages a small team of writers that cover all genres of movies, including writing featured articles on trending topics. In addition to writing, they cover live events, such as film premieres and screenings in Cleveland, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Silver Springs.
She especially enjoys the opportunity to meet emerging talent who enjoy sharing their passion, journey, challenges, and success with our readers. You can learn more about Your Film Review at OcchiMagazine.com.