YAS QUEENS! It’s fri-yay, which means it’s time for another edition of Feminist Friday – our weekly post where we share our fave videos of the moment. This week we’re honoring brown girls everywhere. The first two videos come from projects that feature diverse, intersectional brown women in lead roles giving visibility to women and film who have been sorely under-represented throughout history. The third video talks about the ways in which the world’s most powerful film industry needs to improve, featuring 4 well-known Hollywood actresses.
First up, our soon-to-be favorite web series ‘Brown Girls’, based out of Chicago. The first episode is set to be released in February 2017, but the series’ creators, writer Fatimah Asghar and producer Sam Bailey, have released a trailed to give viewers a glimpse of what to expect.
“‘Brown Girls’ is an intimate story of the lives of two young women of color. Leila is a South Asian-American writer just now owning her queerness. Patricia is a sex-positive Black-American musician who is struggling to commit to anything: job, art and relationships. While the two women come from completely different backgrounds, their friendship is ultimately what they lean on to get through the messiness of their mid-twenties,” says a description on the website.
The show’s story line is through an unapologetically feminist, intersectional brown lens. Writer Fatimah explained why sisterhood and women of color were important themes for her to portray.
“Friendships with women of color have literally saved my life … The show is loosely based off of me and my best friend, Jamila. My friendship with Jamila is one of the most important relationships that I have ever had. I really wanted to create something that highlighted that love, because I feel like friendship/sisterhood love is not talked about as much as romantic love,” she told WearYourVoicemag.com.
The second video is a trailer for the Bollywood film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, by filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava. It is the second feature film from the director, who was chosen to debut this one at the recent Tokyo International Film Festival’s Asian Future section in early November.
The film depicts the secret acts of rebellion committed by an oppressed housewife and mother of three, and a burqa-clad college girl. Alankrita set out to challenge the stereotypes of women shown in Indian films, something she believes is often an unconscious bias even among female directors.
“I feel that the female gaze is important, for example, how the story is being unravelled and whose perspective it is being told and how woman is being portrayed. In most mainstream Indian films, the gaze is predominantly men’s and women are often objectified. It is all about how the camera moves over the female body. It just lacks the sensitivity to depict a real woman with texture so that women are either portrayed as the idols, victims or as heroes,” she told Channelnewsasia.com.
While she readily admits the women in her film are only representative of a few, not all, Indian women, more than anything she hopes it will start conversations about changing the status quo.
Both ‘Brown Girls’ and ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ are forging pathways that traditional mainstream Hollywood is still very reluctant to pave. Sure, we are seeing greater diversity than ever on our screens, particularly in television more than film, but we still have a long way to go.
Four Hollywood actresses whose names, faces, and projects we ALL recognize, got together to discuss issues such as race, age, sexism and equality within the film industry and how that has a trickle down effect to audiences who watch. ‘Sex and the City’s’ Cynthia Nixon, ‘Veronica Mars’ star Kristen Bell, ‘True Detective’s’ Michelle Monaghan, and ‘Blackish’ star Tracee Ellis Ross were featured in 4 vignettes produced by Net-A-Porter’s The Edit online magazine.
These women are no stranger to breaking the mold for female representations on screen, as many people are familiar with the way SATC brought a distinct brand of empowerment to female sexuality that has become a jumping off point for other shows such as ‘Girls’. Tracee Ellis Ross became the first black actress in 30 years to be nominated for an Emmy in a leading comedy role. She is only the third black woman ever to be nominated for a lead role in a comedy series, the first being Isabel Sanford of ‘The Jeffersons’, who won the award in 1981, and the second being Phylicia Rashad who played Clair Huxtable on ‘The Cosby Show’ in 1986.
It is important to celebrate the wins and the milestones, but it is even more important to continue the momentum by acknowledging areas where there is still room for plenty more equality on screen. You can watch the panel discussion with the 4 actresses below: