The company behind Essence magazine just announced their partnership with Queen Latifah to fund an initiative that supports creatives of color.
In the article “Essence and Queen Latifah Unveil $20 Million Fund for Artists of Color” by Sameer Rao, it was announced through an emailed statement that “The fund will create and finance film, television, digital and documentary-style content that reflect the lives and experiences of women of color,”. This is a great opportunity for women of color who want to showcase their work and may not have the financial tools to do so. This initiative will also open up the space for young girls and women to see themselves represented on screen in a new way.
The initiative will also help support the artists by promoting them through Essence’s various platforms which will give them more exposure.
Having these kinds of resources allows women of color to take control of what happens on screen and gives them the chance to control their narrative. Even though films like Moonlight and Fences were directed by men of color, they both shifted the way we think about what experiences can be told on screen.
Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time is an example of what representation does for young girls and how it impacts the way in which they see themselves in the world. The film’s main character, Meg Murry is biracial and displays a certain amount of heroism as she goes on a journey to find her missing father. For many, seeing a young biracial girl on screen, in addition to her being the main character shed light on the importance of diversifying the stories that are told. It is also important to note that many young girls came away from the film feeling empowered and saw themselves in Meg’s character. I think that being able to identify with a character or their experience contributes to the impact of storytelling and seeing women of color on screen in ways that are not demeaning or stereotypical greatly influences how we carry ourselves in the world.
With Essence and Queen Latifah partnering up to fund this initiative I believe that women of color will be able to take the film world by storm. There are not enough women of color telling their stories in film and if they are, they are not getting the recognition that they deserve. Creatives of color deserve the chance to tell their stories, to be heard, to be seen and most importantly to show others that they are not alone.
Written By Ashanti Lee
Ashanti Lee is a recent college graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She enjoys writing poetry and believes in the power of community.