The Rise Of Representation In Film: What Inclusivity Means To People Of Color


2018 is proving to be a great year for both film and the growth of many all-encompassing casts. Movies including Black Panther, A Wrinkle In Time, Ocean’s 8, Annihilation, and Sorry To Bother You, all feature ensembles of leading actors that bring diversity to the big screen. At a time when our nation has undergone a magnifying glass effect on racial injustice, an underlying issue that has perhaps never been solved –only politely tucked away, it is comforting to find a burgeoning amount of positivity and inclusion in an arena notorious for bringing all likes of people together.

As a biracial woman, growing up it was hard to find my mirrored reflection or family dynamic in the roles of the stars that graced the silver screen. Pursuing a likeliness to people that I felt connected to was something I met with a shy disappointment, a feeling that I find many other ethnicities have shared. Contentedly, I have found that with progressing times and progressive people, the stains and stigmas of certain ways that people are thought to look and act are fading away. On the rise, portrayals of people of color that go beyond the sometimes overwhelmingly uncomfortable and continual roles as slaves or drug dealers or awkward immigrants provide a sense of hope and more importantly inspiration to generations. Movies where we can be funny, or kings and queens, scientists, hackers, and even otherworldly whimsical beings all help build a sense of self-worth and imagination. These roles can float off the screen and into the minds of the youth, encouraging them to think creatively, dream big, and take pride. Pictures can act as a love letter to the community telling you that yes, you are loved, you can be anything, and you are important.

Not only does this type of representation boost the morale of people of color, people who often feel left out of many narratives, it also perhaps taps on the subconscious of all races to show that we are all humans and therefore all deserving of equality. Often, the movies are a place for us to escape reality, so why not include all the types of people who yearn for that same relief when they attend? What connects us as beings are the common longing to be heard, to be seen, and to be loved. Images of a strong black king who derives from a technological marvel to an Indian supernatural guide that speaks in the divergent tongue of literary context, these roles are unique and constructive, and should leave all those who watch in wonder. Validation is sought by us all, even if it can be found in fiction.

The theater is a place where we sit; all cast in darkness, watching the motion display steady along a screen. It is also a space to derive some connection, some kindred between a feeling, or a character, or a scene that speaks to us. This is why representation matters so that we can come away all feeling something.

We live in a time where our country is becoming more vocal about concerns in the realm of intolerance. It is encouraging to find directors, producers, and actors that are open to sharing and showing us to celebrate how different we may come in shape, and yet are found to be completely connected. It is by education, and visuals, and telling each other our experiences, in which we come together, even if that starts in the movies.