Last week, I wrote about my dissatisfaction with the options I’ve been given when it comes to Black media in Hollywood. I concluded the article with a sheer of hope for Black representation in entertainment, thanks in part to video sharing sites like YouTube, which has virtually created celebrities overnight.
An excerpt from the article:
Luckily, with the emergence of alternative media (ahem, like Wear Your Voice), Black Hollywood is saying ‘fuck it,’ and creating their own shit. What this message sends to Hollywood is “we’re not going to wait around for you to get some sense, we’re running things our way.” With HBO in the works with Youtube sensation Issa Rae of Awkward Black Girl to develop a comedy series, one can only hope that Hollywood continues to listen and change the way Black artists are portrayed on the big screen.
In part of our month long series Black #HERstory, here’s a list of 9 of the best web series created, produced, written, directed by and starring Black women who are shaking up the entertainment industry and running things their way.
Awkward Black Girl
This article would better be titled “9 of the most entertaining way to procrastinate your day away.” So, here’s the thing about web series, they’re usually no longer than 15 minutes, so you can easily watch two full seasons in just a few hours…Which is exactly what I did when I was introduced to Issa Rae’s award winning web series Awkward Black Girl. Shit so good Pharell came on as an executive producer and Rae’s working with HBO to create a comedy series. I meant to watch just one episode for “research,” and before I knew it, I became trapped in the Issa Rae web of hilarity as I literally gorged on all ABG episodes.
One Sentence Plotline: A story about J, an awkward black girl, and her misadventures navigating life as a 20 something single woman.
Why you need to tune in: From sticky situations to sophisticated ratchet rap sequences (and choreographed dances to some 90s r&b), there won’t be a moment you won’t find yourself dying of hysterical laughter. Personally, I see myself in every episode (which leads me to believe we would be amazing BFFs), and discovered through ABG that being awkward ain’t so bad.
Here’s another web series I found during said “research.” Black Actress, written by and starring Andrea Lewis (Dagrassi), and produced by Tatyana Ali, Brian Walker and Issa Rae. It details the struggles of a Black actress living in New York navigating the acting world while trying to land her big break. Each episode begins and ends with an actual Black actress who details their own experience in Hollywood. Check it out–and also help them continue the series by donating to their Kickstarter Campaign!
One Sentence Plotline: Kori, a phenomenal actress, has yet to find her big break and continually wonders if she’s got what it takes to make it to Hollywood while navigating single life after being dumped by her guy who’s now the ‘it’ thing in Hollywood.
Why you need to tune in: Even if you’re not an actress, you’ll totally relate to the characters. It’s also a glimpse of the bullshit real Black actresses in Hollywood have to put up with (is natural hair in or out this week?)
If the title doesn’t reel you in, then let me tell you why you need to be tuning into Rachetpiece Theater. The genius behind this is yet again Issa Rae (who’s probably the largest creator when it comes to creating web series–regardless of race or gender.)
One Sentence Plotline: In each episode, Rae critiques her favorite Ratchet songs (don’t judge her) breaking down the science and art of rachetness.
Why you need to tune in: Your guilty pleasure consists of songs with ratchet lyrics but don’t know why? Issa will be like your mini therapist and break it down to you, line by line.
If a favorite night in with your girls consists of watching romcoms like Love and Basketball, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and Love Jones, First will become your new addiction. An Issa Rae production, the show is written and starring Jahmela Biggs, with a tinge of humor and a heap of romance (without all the sappy and corniness of most romcoms.)
One Sentence Plotline: Robin returns to her hometown, rekindling a romance with childhood friend Charles.
Why you should tune in: It romantic but not overbearing, and the chemistry between Robin and Charles is full of suspense Will they simply remain friends or blossom into something more?–You’ll have to tune in to find out!
The show is ALL THE REAL. You know that one friend of yours who is so racist without trying to be? Have no doubt, simply sit them in front of your laptop for a day of racial rehab. Created and starring Diarra Kilpatrick, American Koko deals with navigating life as a woman of color in a “post racial” society.
One Sentence Plotline: Think Wonder Woman meets Spike Lee’s Bamboozled meets The Office –Akosua leads the team at EAR agency (Everybody’s a Little Racist,) a race detective agency that mediates sticky situations that deal with race while trying to sort out her personal life.
Why you should tune in: Akosua says all the shit you want to say to people but usually too afraid to say. And she’s hilarious at doing it.
Regardless of what ethnic background you come from, if you are or have previously been in a relationship, this web series will resonate with you. Take the first episode for example: How many times have you gone snooping in your partner’s phone? Cut the “I respect their space and autonomy as an individual” B.S, and keep it real–you know you have at some point in your life. Created by Jeanine Daniels, Numa Perrier and Dennis Dortch, the couple is a modern spin on 90s sitcom Martin.
One Sentence Plotline: A quirky Black couple go though different nuances of a relationship
Why you should tune in: So you can watch with your partner and prove that you’re not the only psycho lover out “See? Everyoneeee does it!”
Who hasn’t been in a situation where they’ve considered dating one of their best friends? I went through an entire year of awkwardness with my best guy friend circling around the idea. We met as neighbors, who knows what would have gone down if were were roommates (an idea we had toyed with at one time.) This web series gives me a bit of insight of what my life would have been like had I gone down that rabbit hole.
One Sentence Plotline: Two roommates hook up with the big question lurking over their heads of “what next?”
Why you should tune in: If you’re like me and love juicy plots and and bed talk.
Ah, online dating. No one wants to admit they met their beau on there, but EVERYONE uses it. Casual hookup or looking for something serious, we’ve all tried it at least once. From my experience, any content I have in my ‘about me’ section is quickly overlooked—I can tell from the messages I receive (which is usually some techie San Franciscan trying to convince me how urban he truly is and would like to get in touch with his Mitochondrial Eve side by making the long trek across the Bay to Oakland to come and explore my body.) Online dating is NEVER easy. Online dating is especially never easy when you’re a woman of color. Hello Cupid deals with all that and then some.
One Sentence Plotline: The story of two best friends, and their journey in online dating.
Why you should tune in: Because, yes, the struggle is THAT real.
Black Feminist Blogger
Before I found a home at Wear Your Voice, this web series was literally my life in the world of freelance. My biggest writing horror story? I was paid to ghostwrite for a Filipino blog site for .50 an article–yes .5o cents….(I was young and ambitious.) What makes this web series so entertaining is that Black Feminist Blogger creator Aph Ko conceptualized the series around her own experiences as a freelance writer. And with all the juicy plotlines, I desperately wonder what publication inspired the faux Sapphire Mouth Magazine.
One Sentence Plotline: About a Black feminist freelance writer named Latoya’s whose life comically highlights the struggles in online feminist advocacy work like exploitation, being under-paid and trying to find a balance with her personal life.
Why you should tune in: The only web series I know that’s devoted to chronicling the life of a Black freelance writer– If you thought working from home was paradise, Black Feminist Blogger will show you what life’s like for us on the other end of the screen.