(L to R) Ava Duvernay, Spike Lee, Jordan Peele
The films that launched the entertainment industry around the turn of the 20th century were created for white audiences by white filmmakers.
It took decades for Black directors to break into the industry and alter how Hollywood operated behind and in front of the camera and how it viewed Black content. Oscar Micheaux led the charge, launching his own studio in 1919.
Directors like Melvin van Peebles and Gordon Parks put Black narratives at the forefront of their storytelling in the 1970s, creating a subgenre known as “blaxploitation.” These films used Black stereotypes about poverty and drug abuse to put Black actors at the center…