Black Representation in Films: Interview with Kaitlyn Allen


Why do you think representation in films is so important?

“When we see people in films doing something cute and fun, we might want to do those things. Or at least we know it’s possible to do those things. Movies have a lot of influence on our mood, values, and how we see the world and ourselves. I’m a big movie person, my favorite movie is ‘Inception’ but it’s one of those movies where the majority of the cast is white.”

When did you first realize the lack of people of color being represented in the media you consumed?

“Going to Hunter Elementary, I had to go a math level up and in 3rd grade I was put in AIG and it was just me and another black girl in a class full of white people and there wasn’t much I could do about it. That’s when I started to realize that I was different. But in middle school when I really started watching movies and caring more about entertainment, I started to realize the lack of black people not only around me but in the media I was consuming.”

In the next 10 years do you think it will get better or worse?

“I think it’ll get better…When our generation makes it to the real world, our voices will be amplified and we will realize that not only do black struggles need to be represented, black joy should be equally represented.

I think movies like ‘The Help’ and ‘Remember the Titans’ that do have Black Representation and are “classic” films, use it to promote white saviorism. The main characters are always white and happen to be the heroes of the movie that help the Black people along the way. I don’t think these movies should be praised when it comes to representation… Actually, I don’t think representing minorities in film is something that deserves to be praised anyway. It is absolutely the bare minimum and there are no excuses. There are so many talented actors and actresses of color who have to work 10 times harder to get featured in films than white people.”

Are there any movies you can think of that caused controversy because of the Black representation?

“I think [the] perfect example is ‘The Little Mermaid’, the one with Halle Bailey. The amount of backlash that was received because a Black woman being casted shows how much more work needs to be done in order for more Black people to be seen on the screen. It also shows how fragile the white ego is. The movie hasn’t even come out yet and it is already making people angry.”

Do you have any recommendations for movies with Black representation?

“I think Jordan Peele is a great director who is known for his use of Black characters. Of course, his probably best known film, ‘Get Out’, is about racism but his other films like ‘Nope’ and ‘Us’ feature the same representation with less obvious plots about race, even though commentary is still present through the films. During Black History Month, a really easy way to educate yourself about Black culture is to watch movies.”