black entertainment and representation may be improvebut there is still a long way to go.
That’s one of the key takeaways from a recent webinar hosted by Variety Intelligence Platform, where VIP+ Senior Media Analyst Gavin Bridge hosted guests from across the media: Jed Cargill (AEW wrestler), Chantel Riley (actor, singer-songwriter), Calani Rogers (content creator) and co-host Robin Mowat (fashion and culture reporter).
The panel discussed several topics, including a long-standing lack of awareness of June black music monthControversy Surrounding Ariel the Little Mermaid played by a black actress, how opportunities for black talent are unequal, and the role of gatekeepers in ensuring that real stories make it to the screen. Below are some unique perspectives, but for those interested in the topic, click above to view the entire webinar.
On the Representation of Black People in the Entertainment Industry
Jed Cargill: There aren’t enough black entertainers doing stunt doubles. They had to paint several stunt doubles in completely different colors to play the role. In professional wrestling, I’m the first black woman to be on the cover of a video game, and it’s 2023 — it’s shocking.But it’s gotten better and I think it’s been recognized [of Black entertainers] in motion.
Calani Rogers: One of the things we can do better in this industry is provide more diverse acting roles for black women – so not just women with lighter skin, but roles that will be filled by women with darker skin too – That way there is no stigma. For example, hood movies made, gangster movies, TV shows—put us in a better position and play characters that don’t quite fit that approach.
Robin Mowat: I’ve noticed a tendency with some TV shows and black movies these days that they don’t traumatize their characters over and over again. They’re actually telling stories beyond trauma — that black people are professionals, and they dress well — but also exploring a personal level beyond police brutality and what weighs heavily.
How Gatekeepers Affect Content
Shantel Riley: It’s very unfortunate that the gatekeepers tend to be older, mostly white, and most of them are a little out of touch with what’s going on, and it’s 2023, and black people do exist and have stories to tell.
Cargill: It’s really difficult because companies are playing it safe and trying not to offend anyone.exist [the AEW]there is no black representation in high office, so we have to poke around as much as possible and make them understand.
Rogers: In the content space, when TikTok really took off, a lot of people would create dances, especially from black people and black culture, but they didn’t really get any recognition from it, especially algorithmic recognition. Then you’d have a white guy do it and the video would blow up. They get credit and recognition.
It didn’t really have much of an impact on people until we started to understand that they were making money from it, so now these people create a lot of content and culture that’s just been taken from them. When we spoke up, we were told it wasn’t a big deal — it’s okay, you should be thankful that other people endorsed your stuff. No one recognizes that this is what people take from the content, rather than giving that credit back to black people.
Another thing I noticed was the disparity between black content creators and white content creators. I’ve seen a lot of people throw a tantrum over something so small that they didn’t even really mean to throw a tantrum, and they’re invited to a movie premiere and a brand deal.It’s just a completely different access they get than black people when they broke out, I’ve seen black people who have been popular for so long and they don’t even have a blue tick on their name [on Twitter].
On the Different Feelings of Black Artists in Hair and Makeup
Riley: terrible.Aktra, Australia [Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists] Canada just reached a settlement to ensure that their hair and makeup labors will be diverse. I used to be on set and after I had to sit in the hair and makeup chair, I had to go back to my trailer and completely change everything. You have your white counterparts who can come right out and look stunning and stunning because the stylist knows how to create white skin and hair. Unfortunately, some stylists don’t take the time to research brunettes, natural hair, and darker skin tones. But that shouldn’t be the case – change needs to happen.
Mowat: On the editorial side, I make the photos, and I actually enjoy making them because I can handpick who’s going to do the grooming and who’s going to do the hair…and not everyone who uses it is in a union .
Cargill: I’ve been in a lot of productions where when I get out of my chair and go back to my room to wipe off my makeup, I look like a ghost because they make it look too bright under my eyes. Our makeup department does its best to find us a makeup artist that suits our skin tone. But I’ve learned to bring my own foundation and makeup for contouring, and I don’t think that should be the case. I’ve even been involved in haute couture photography, but didn’t even have the right product.
These are just a few notable moments from the webinar. Other areas covered include the importance of black-centric studios such as Hulu Onyx and Hallmark Mahogany, how stereotypes continue to spread in the entertainment industry, why black people need to write their own stories, and how Jed Cargill is fighting back even though She also has a more aggressive on-screen presence when playing “bad” characters.