- Miss Sofia – Color Purple
Alice Walker released her masterpiece in 82 and the movie followed in 85. I was a baby but something brilliant was brewing back then. Read the book when I was too young. Watched the movie when I was even younger. Miss Sofia was a bad ass. Powerful. Feminine. Sister bear. Mama bear. The fighter. Though this American Life eventually broke her in, I root for her each time I reread or rewatched Color Purple, hoping her story will end differently. Her story is so many of our stories. My heart always lands at heavy when I think about her at her first holiday dinner laughing through her many scars. Quietly powerful. Still fighting, still encouraging and still reminding folk of the value of hope.
- Lovely – Girl 6
While Hollywood seduces our world on a daily basis, Girl 6 reels us back into reality. As an actress, I find Girl 6’s experiences are as sobering as they are real. She is not always strong. She is not exempt from breakdowns. She is not always ideal. She is not always confident in her ability or beauty. Imperfect, she explores the cost of her dream while fighting to stay inside of rooms attempting to push her out.
A downward spiral reveals what she can do without as well as what she has the power to do. She affects change in her life and with pride.
It’s also worth noting that Suzan-Lori Parks created this wonderfully layered character that is Girl 6.
- Hush Puppy – Beasts of a Southern Wild
Quvenzhané Wallis makes people call her by her full name. No nicknames for her. A newcomer to Hollywood, I understand how Quvenzhané was booked because only a child with a sense of autonomy could handle the depth of Hush Puppy. Plus, I’m impartial to cute six-year-olds with gumption. Hush Puppy embodies the free-spirited baby girl power all women remember once having. Guided by imagination, Hush Puppy copes with her father’s declining health and her changing environment spiritedly, confidently, and freely. Hush Puppy because I think Octavia Butler would have loved her.
- Sarafina – Sarafina
Sarafina in 2016 America would be leading a chapter of BLM, be both the dance and choir captain at performing arts schools, and with the campus’s most fly & woke dude on her arm. I’m so glad Sarafina kept me company as I child. I’ll never forget that choreography, the songs, the despair, or the hope. The transition from her shantytown to her mother’s employers panacea from the ghetto suburb is unforgettable. Sarafina all day every day. Refreshing, her awareness that all is not fair as she makes her way from neighborhoods that have so little into the upscale spaces reliant on the poverty of the prior.
- Zola – Crooklyn
Brooklyn-flavored black girl coming of age. Zola came for puberty and anyone who denied her magic. Zola is as thoughtful as she is aware. After surviving a summer of colorism, she throws an inspired fro in its face. The loss of her mother pulls a maturity out of Zola I wish I could protect her from, but it’d be a different story. Always assessing, she approaches accountability with a maturity that’s bittersweet. Little black girl eyes see so much. We learn early that life is unfair as we cross over from childhood into womanhood. But Zola is hopeful and ready to take on her new reality. The loss of her mother pulls a maturity out of Zola I wish I could protect her from, but it’d be a different not as meaty story. From the audience, we assume Zola will thrive. After surviving a summer of colorism, she throws an inspired fro in its face, because that’s the Zola move. Zola is OG Black Girl Magic.