Standout Project: Season 2 of Netflix show, Chewing Gum
Excerpt: “[Tracey is] a black, dark-skinned woman, who is just being free and crazy, and she’s vulnerable, and she’s funny, and she’s cute, she’s endearing and she’s messed up,” Coel says. According to her, there is a need for more “nearly invisible” black characters on television who represent the imperfect woman and their navigation through life.“I don’t see it on TV enough, and that’s why I made the character,” she continues. “If I wasn’t black, I would have wrote that part for a black person and cast someone else. I want people to watch it and to feel liberated and do whatever they want.”
Black female creatives like Coel, The Chi’s creator Lena Waithe and Coel’s close friend, Insecure’s “super dope” Issa Rae, have gone over massive hurdles to create television shows and films featuring characters who are relatable to one of television’s most important demographics. However, Coel says the entertainment industry itself still couldn’t be further from the finish line when it comes to inclusion and acceptance.
“Being a dark-skinned woman right now is interesting. It is really, really interesting,” she says as her brows furrow and the energetic tone in her voice shifts to something more serious. “At awards shows, you win an award, right? And you get your gift bag, and it’s like M.A.C makeup or something, and it’s all for white people. You get tanning lotion, white people’s foundation, and it’s just a constant reminder that I can come to this party, but it’s not my party. I’ve been allowed in. This is not my home, and I don’t really have a real space here.”
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