Since the dawn of the motion picture industry at the start of the 20th century, there has existed a very discernable atmosphere of marginalization, stereotypes and flat-out lies crafted by the forefathers of the current Hollywood superstructure. This troupe was seized upon for no other reason than to make black and brown people appear less than human.
The mainstream populous was made to feel better about itself at the obvious expense of racial and ethnic groups that were clearly outside of the loop of privilege.
Inspired by the famed 1958 Art Kane photograph, A Great Day in Harlem that chronicled 57 great jazz musicians, Netflix recruited 47 black actors, directors, and creatives from their robust roster of talent, for a portrait and video, that is both inspirational and practical.
A Great Day in Hollywood is inspired by “A Great Day in Harlem” – A moment that captured the spirit of New York City, the center of the jazz world, in 1958 at a time that was considered the “golden age of jazz.”
As far as the greater representation for creative people of color in front and behind the cameras, there have been multiple eras of apparent explosions, followed by years of low-to-no representation for Black people on the silver screen.
There was the Blaxploitation era of the ’70s and early ’80s, then the Cosby-copycat sitcoms of the late ’80s and early ’90s, then the buffoonish, so-called coonish films, and sitcoms that proliferated the mid-’90s through the first decade of the 21st century.
Lest we forget to recall how the beauty and truth of the Oscar-nominated Boyz N The Hood were usurped by black-on-black murder porn and cinematic drug dealer how-to’s that tried to copy that flow.
So as we witness this inspiring new video promotion with your boy Caleb McLaughlin of Stranger Things narrating, a high gravity epiphany was apparent.
The photo was taken by Kwaku Alston, and the accompanying video was directed by Lacey Duke.
It was a pretty magical couple of hours. All these amazingly talented, beautiful individuals in one space being supportive and just looking stunning together, all here to pull off this one-take wonder! Alfre Woodard even led everyone in an epic rendition of Lift Every Voice, before we started shooting. It was beautiful, and in a flash, it was over. It was probably the most overwhelming two hours of my career. I was just so happy to be a part of history, Duke said.
The multitude of blackness, with experiences as unique as thumbprints, coming together to celebrate the multitude of melanin that is creating uniquely black stories for their own sake, it is more than worth mentioning how far we’ve come.
Yet, there’s still much work to do.