LOOK HOLLYWOOD, WE FOUND SOME BLACK WOMEN WRITERS
December 5, 2018
The Hollywood Reporter managed to find enough Black woman writers — 62, to be exact — to conduct its biggest shoot ever, so we’re wondering what all that we can’t find diverse writers fuss is about. Interesting.
When All American showrunner Okoro Carroll hooked up then-scribe Lena Waithe with a staff writing gig on Bones back in 2014, a fellow staff writer asked her, “Aren’t you worried she’s going to take your job?” Carroll came back with a reply that was the essence of Black Girl Magic affirmation: “You should be worried she’ll take your job.” Bless.
Carroll and Waithe formed a relationship based on being the only two Black woman in a space and instead of buying into a narrative that Black women writers have to compete for a seat at the table, the two writers, along with Being Mary Jane writer Erika L. Johnson, decided to create a collective of Black woman TV writers.
Black Women Who Brunch had its inaugural meeting in March 2014 with 12 members that would grow into the 80 Black women writing themselves into an industry dragging its feet at seeking them out. “This group is the proof…” against and antidote to “people saying, ‘We can’t find any Black female writers,'” says Johnson.
The collective hosts potlucks at Carroll’s house every three months, celebrating wins and brainstorming issues, all the while serving as a fertile base for job recommendations as the demand for Black women TV writers skyrockets. “It’s not just a community we’re building, but a resource,” comments Waithe. “We really are able to recommend eight or nine Black women for certain jobs.”
The Hollywood Reporter piece is a well of insight into the realities of a Black woman dreaming and attempting to break into the TV writing industry. The 62 BWB members who could attend the shoot spoke of issues such as barriers to entry and being the token in the room to things Hollywood needs to understand and microaggression horror stories. The stories shared were sobering and enlightening, painting a recurring pattern of disregard, isolation and fear of rocking the boat.
Hollywood isn’t going to be able to ignore all this Black Girl Magic for much longer and it’s about damn time. More Black women writers, showrunners, EPs, editors PLEASE. They’re there. They’re ready to do the work. Our binging selves are ready to see what comes.