Pop Culture

Black Women Who are Acceptable in Film and TV

Don’t ask me why, but recently I was thinking about Black women who star in action movies. I could only think of two in recent years. Zoe Saldana (yes she is Black, Latina is not a race) who starred in Avatar, The Losers, Columbiana, and Star Trek, and Naomie Harris who starred in 28 Days Later, Miami Vice, After the Sunset, Ninja Assassin, Pirates of the Caribbean films, and the new Jame Bond film, Skyfall (Naomie has played a lot of cops!). I also realized that other than Naomie’s role in Miami Vice, in all the other films the women had interracial relationships! I am also familiar with many of Zoe’s other roles where she has been paired with White men (e.g., Guess Who, Haven, Death at a Funeral, and The Words). To me, this is A LOT and there may be other roles I don’t know about.

naomie harris daniel craig

Naomie Harris and Daniel Craig

Why are movie producers okay with pairing Naomie and Zoe again and again with White men (and an Asian in Ninja Assassin) in blockbuster mainstream films? It makes you wonder why these producers are willing to face the protests of racists by employing Black women in these roles. Do they think that the actresses are attractive enough that audiences won’t mind? I wonder if they wrote the roles for Black women or if the auditions were so good they did not care about race (e.g., Halle Berry has gotten many roles that were written for White women, yes we all know she is biracial).

I think the media is telling us something that has gone unnoticed. The media is telling us they think these Black women are acceptable and equal to non-Black women who they could have employed instead. The media is saying they find these women attractive, they think their mainstream audiences will find them attractive, and they think it’s believable they could and would date non-Black men. The media thinks these Black women are desirable to the mainstream!

thandie in retreat

Thandie Newton played Cillian Murphy’s wife in this great thriller

So what do these women have in common? I think that Zoe and Naomi are pretty, they have similar thin body types (yes they are very thin, let’s move on),  they are both quite feminine despite playing tough action stars, they speak well, and they often smile and don’t look angry. Even if they have to be hard at times (e.g., when fighting off rage infected zombies or using a rocket launcher), they are still often shown as vulnerable, feminine, and worthy of male affection and concern. Kerry Washington has also done several roles where she was paired with White men including Scandal of course, Lakeview Terrace, Last King of Scotland, and Fantastic Four. In all of these roles she played someone vulnerable and males tried to protect her. I think she is similar to Zoe and Naomi in terms of the traits I previously mentioned. It’s rare to see women who are very different from Zoe, Naomi, and Kerry paired with non-Black men. However there are rare cases where a hard or stereotypical Black women has been paired with non-Black men for comic relief (e.g., Beyonce in Goldmember, Queen Latifah in Bringing Down the House, Halle Berry in Baps) or because they are both “from the hood”. Hey, don’t get mad at me, these are just things I have noticed, I don’t make the rules! Another unusual pairing was making Joseph Gordon-Levitt (my love) and Monique, yes Monique, are a couple in the film Shadow boxer (he kisses her and he was hot!). Other strange pairings include anything starring Whoopi Goldberg but that’s another story… But these parings are rare and unlike Zoe, Naomi, and Kerry, the actresses are not repeatedly paired with non-black men in romantic roles (except Halle of course).

It may actually be surprising to some that many popular, feminine, and yes medium to dark skinned Black actresses have been paired with non-Black men in many TV and movie roles. There is a great list of movies on the Black Women, White Men: Interracial Romance in the Movies site that you can consult to get your interracial romance fix (you can also tell them any films that aren’t on the list)!

Here is a list of some Black and biracial women who have also done interracial roles:

Tyra Banks, Angela Bassett, Naomi Campbell, Angel Coulby, Dorothy Dandridge, Robin Givens, Lena Horne, Whitney Houston, Beverly Johnson, Saana Lathan, Nia Long, Audra McDonald, Thandie Newton, Paula Patton, Diana Ross, Gina Torres, Gabrielle Union, Lark Voorhees, Rutina Wesley, and Vanessa Williams. You can see many more on Black Women, White Men: Interracial Romance in the Movies.

Here is another list of some television shows that have had Black woman (and many biracial women) with non-Black man couples at some point. If the relationships are long/significant they are marked with an asterisk and biracial roles are underlined:

Eureka*, Battlestar Galactica*, Being Human, Boy Meets World*, Castle, Deception*, Firefly*, Flash Forward*, Franklin and Bash, Friends, Girlfriends, Grey’s Anatomy, Haven, Hawthorne*, Jane By Design, Lost*, Misfits*, Missing*,Night Stalker*, Nikita*, Nip/Tuck, Parenthood*, Private Practice*, Regenisis, Revenge, Rookie Blue*, Scandal*, Show Me Yours*,  Student Bodies*Suits*The 4400*The Adventures of Merlin*The Secret Circle*, True Blood*, Ugly Betty*Vampire Diaries* , Wonderfalls.

Use the internet to watch these films whenever you crave seeing non-stereotypical Black women with rainbeaus because there is a LONG list to satisfy you. Personally, due to my Internet use, I never feel like I’m not seeing enough Black women on TV, I just select shows and movies and I watch them whenever I want. Happy watching!


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