A New Netflix Ad Proves Black Representation In Hollywood Isn't A Moment, It's A Movement

"We are Strong Black Leads. Today is a great day in Hollywood."

Those watching last night's the 2018 BET Awards were treated to a new Netflix ad that carries a powerful message about the importance of Black representation in film and television: "This is not a moment. This is a movement."


The commercial — from the Netflix's Strong Black Lead team, and directed by Lacey Duke with cinematography by Malik Sayeed — features 47 of the streaming platform's top Black creators and stars across more than 20 different projects. Some of the faces in the crowd belong to the likes of Ava DuVernay, Spike Lee, Lena Waithe, Laverne Cox, and Mike Colter, just to name a few. The celebratory spot comes at an interesting time as it aired days after Netflix fired one of its top PR execs for repeated use of the N-word in the workplace.

"This is a new day, built from the ground broken by legends, a day for our generation to see untold experiences of our Blackness representing a limitless range of identity, playing kings and queens of our neighborhoods, defeating larger-than-life forces trying to flip our world upside down," Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin begins in a very poignant and timely monologue. 

"We stand up on any stage and every screen. A day when Black women are boldly the lead character, whether inmates or scholars," McLaughlin continues. "We're not a genre because there's no one way to be Black. We're writing while Black, nuanced and complex, resilient and strong. This is not a moment. This is a movement. We are Strong Black Leads. Today is a great day in Hollywood."

That last line is a direct reference to the moment of Black history the video is paying homage to: Art Kane's iconic 1958 photo titled "A Great Day in Harlem." This group shot, which was taken for Esquire at the time, featured 57 notable jazz musicians on a stoop in the historically Black neighborhood of New York City. Kwaku Alston is responsible for the new image.

"Strong Black Lead is relatable and real, always unapologetically Black, and assumes context and knowledge so that content doesn't need to be watered down," Maya Watson Banks, the streaming giant's director of brand and editorial, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that it "represents an intentional focus from Netflix to talk authentically with the Black audience." The initiative, which was started earlier this year, spans across social media and live events, helping audiences connect with Netflix's content.

"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," Duke told The Hollywood Reporter of the shoot. "Alfre Woodard even led everyone in an epic rendition of 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' 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."

Besides being a who's who of Black excellence who call Netflix home, this is also a reminder of all the amazing shows that serve up diversity for viewers all across the world. Representation matters, and Netflix is driving that message home.

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