The ‘Wakanda’ Revolution in Film and Television

By: Malik Pollard

Those of us who are not white have considerably more trouble not only finding representation of ourselves in mass media and other arenas of public life, but also finding representation that indicates that our humanity is multi­faceted. Relating to characters onscreen is necessary not merely for us to feel seen and understood, but also for others who need to see and understand us. When it doesn’t happen, we are all the poorer for it.” – Jamil Smith (Time Magazine)

I hope Jamil Smith doesn’t mind that I quoted him from his article,The Revolutionary
Power of Black Panther”
if you have never had an opportunity to read it, I highly recommend it. Most of us knew that the significance of Black Panther would be monumental. Back on the 16th of February, 2018, a revolution in film took place. However, that revolution was greater than just the movie “Black Panther,” it was an opportunity for the world to see African Culture. It was an opportunity for the World to see Black people as Kings, Queens, Warriors, Technologists, and SUPER. “Black Panther” broke the mold of the stereotypical rolls that we usually see black actors play in Hollywood films. It proved that a film directed by an African American and with a predominately black cast could generate blockbusting profits in Hollywood; and Hollywood took notice. Just as many things, it takes something ground-breaking for others to follow suit; and following they are. As an entertainment show, MadFlavor TV has seen in just a short year later, television shows, and films being developed and placed on the Big Screen that aren’t just entertaining world audiences with laughter, action, and drama; but that are also representing the Culture (and not just Black Culture). Recently released movies such as “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is represented with a predominately Latin cast. Stars Isabela Moner and Eugenio Derbez explains:

Eugenio – “I’m always trying to portray a positive image for Latinos…because you know we have been represented Hollywood movies always like Drug Lords or criminals, and I always wanted to change that image. So being in this movie (Dora) is a great honor for me and for the community.”

Isabela – “It’s really cool to me that Dora has never been pigeon held in a certain heritage. They never disclose that in the television show; just like “Black Panther” was to the Black Community; they just felt like here is this mythical tribe and therefore I can be a part of this; it’s just like with Dora you feel like this is a mythical situation and I can be a part of this and all the little kids in the world can be like okay, I’m with her.”

It doesn’t just end there; Producer Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson took the opportunity to bring forth Samoan Culture with fellow Polynesian actors in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” a Fast and the Furious franchise spin-off. Fast and the Furious is a movie franchise ‘phenom’ with 9 movies to date, and August 9th will represent the 10th.

Dwayne Johnson“I look over and she [his mother who Johnson brought on set while filming in Hawaii] is bawling.” The mama’s doing the ugly cry! I didn’t show her any rehearsals. She’s never heard me speak in Samoan to that extent. As I’m calling, I’m speaking to God and to atua, and we start our movements and I say, ‘This will be the last face you see before you die,’ and she’s bawling. After the take — it’s so beautiful and I’ll never forget this — all the guys go over to her, “Oh, Mama, are you okay?’ and give her hugs.””

John Tui gets emotional on the red carpet for the Los Angeles premiere of the movie when he talks about his Polynesian heritage, and the scene in the movie that honors his culture and family (click here for interview). I too can relate to that sense of pride and emotion to see someone that looks like you represented in such a beautiful way. Black Panther is for me as what Fast and the Furious: Hobbs and Shaw is for John Tui as what Dora and the Lost City of Gold is for Eugenio Derbez and Isabela Moner, especially in a time right now where there a polarizing comments and views from our President, it’s good to see that at least Hollywood is stressing inclusion, diversity, positive imagery of Black and Brown people from across the diaspora. Let’s hope it continues. I’m sure with an overwhelming support at the Box office for these movies, it will. 

MadFlavor TV’s Los Angeles Premiere of Fast & Furious presents Hobbs and Shaw

 *Click on names for Video links to quotes* 
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