Black women have always taken charge and gotten things done, but they haven’t always been given their rightful spotlight to shine. Whether on stage, behind the podium, or on TV screens, the Black woman’s contribution to the forward progression of the arts—past or present—cannot be understated.
From H.E.R’s emotional rendition of “America the Beautiful” to Amanda Gordon’s moving poem during the inauguration of the country’s first Black and Caribbean female vice president all the way to the ladies of HBO’s original content, Black women continue to change the landscape and deliver awe-inspiring content wherever they go, and they do so especially well in Hollywood. So much so that HBO Max recently launched Black History is Our History, a spotlight page dedicated to highlighting the network’s expansive slate of Black content in television and film.
HBO Max is chock-full of entertainment to satisfy any and all your viewing pleasures, and to kick off Women’s History Month, HBO Max’s library of Black female-led originals is ready for your streaming pleasures. From Issa Rae’s mainstream debut in 2016 to the first time audiences were introduced to Zendaya’s groundbreaking role as Rue to Regina King’s fire performance as the crime-fighting Angela Abar, these women have been redefining how to be seen as a Black woman in Tinsel Town. So as Women’s History Month kicks off, HBO Max is here to recognize the influence of the Black women racking in ratings for its original content.
Regina King has been in front of the camera since childhood, but 2019 was quite the year for the Oscar winner. In the HBO Original Watchmen, King brought to life Angela Abar, a badass vigilante whose mission is to fight against Cyclops, a racist militia in a heartless world. As a dedicated mother and devoted wife, Abar left the police force to double as a bakery owner who settles matters herself. She rocks a black cape, black mask and paint to maintain anonymity and to also let you know she means business. In fact, King’s character was so breathtaking that her performance garnered her a fourth Emmy award. (Yes, fourth.) With more than 40 projects on her resume, King shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, she just added another title to her long-list of achievements this year: film director.
Issa Rae’s HBO Original Insecure is an adult-ish extension of her wildly popular YouTube series, Awkward Black Girl. As the California-bred actress celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the project that helped catapult her to stardom, she’s preparing to say goodbye to Insecure, with it’s fifth and final season. As expected, viewers are following Rae’s resonating storylines and choosing sides while arguing about what drama Molly (Yvonne Orji), Kelli (Natasha Rothwell), Tiffany (Amanda Seales), and Issa are causing— all Black women individually making their mark in film, television, and comedy. Issa’s insecure phase may be coming to an end, but she has a project in progress that’s sure to captivate fans and create more intrigue around life for young Black women.
If you check Robin Thede’s resume, one thing is made clear: she’s always ready to work. Over the years, Thede starred in or written for a slew of late night TV shows, but for her, 2019 was a game changer. The Iowa-born comedian signed a deal with HBO, and she and her Black lady gang have never looked back. She created a space for Black women in comedy to flex their LOL chops in a primetime slot, and make hundreds of thousands laugh hysterically at their screens in the process. While the show hosts a number of guest star appearances, the core cast includes Gabrielle Dennis, Quinta Brunson, Ashley Nicole Black, and of course, Robin Thede. So get ready because the new season is coming soon.
Black women being in front of the camera is great for representation, but Black women behind the camera is equally as important and HBO Original Lovecraft Country’s showrunner, Misha Green proves this. Green developed the supernatural series centered around Atticus Freeman’s futuristic imagination and quest to find his father in the South during the 1950s. To build the cast, she tapped a myriad of talented Black actors to take her story from script to screen, including Jurnee Smollett, Aunjanue Ellis, and Jonathan Majors in the principal role. Both Smollett and Ellis play significant roles as the women in Atticus’ life. Smollett as Leti Lewis, Atticus’ good friend who travels the country with him, and Ellis as Atticus’ aunt, Hippolyta Freeman. Together, these award-winning actresses have helped Green, who’s responsible for a series of your favorite must-see TV dramas, depict an innovative tale combining science-fiction with a raw glance at the Jim Crow South, resulting in more than one million viewers per week.