Black women have been severely underrepresented and negatively portrayed in the media, music, movies and television. Women are more than half of the US population and people of color nearly 40 percent, but those who staff the nation’s news media organizations hardly reflect that diversity. In fact, The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2019 report notes that 17.3 percent of newsroom found that women comprised 41.7% and people of color represent only 22.6% of the overall workface. The number of women working on-screen in television and online streaming entertainment shows declined 2 percentage points from 2016-17 to 2017-18, when 40 percent of all speaking characters were female and 60 per- cent were men. Additionally, women accounted for fewer than a third of speaking characters in 1,100 films released during 11 consecutives years ending in 2017.
However, despite the stats, Black women are making significant progress and beating the odds in the media and entertainment industries. At a time where companies are looking to diversify, increasing the representation of Black women in leadership roles in media has proven to yield great value and impactful results. Corporations with women and minorities in leadership are more profitable, as the top 25 percent of companies with a gender-diverse executive team were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the bottom 25 percent, according to , The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2019 report. Here are three Black women who are way above-average, making history, beating the odds and defying all limitations set against them.
Javicia Leslie– 33-year-old, Hampton graduate and Prince George’s County, Maryland native, Javicia Leslie, was casted as the new lead for the CW series, Batwoman scheduled to return in January. Leslie will be taking over the lead role from actress Ruby Rose and will become the first Black actress to play Batwoman in a live-action TV or film production. Leslie was also a former Miss Hampton University and has played in several TV series including MacGyver, Chef Julian and Prototype. She also stars in BET’s series, The Family Business and the CBS series, God Friended Me.
“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community”, Leslie said, according to Variety.
Joy Reid– Joy Reid, former weekend and afternoon talk show host, will now fill Chris Matthews’ 7 pm slot on MSNBC, making her cable’s first Black woman primetime anchor, beginning July 20th. Reid’s new show based in DC, The Reid Out will feature one-on-one conversations with politicians and newsmakers while addressing provocative political issues both inside and outside of the beltway.” The 51-year-old previously hosted MSNBC’s weekend talk show, AM Joy and worked as a correspondent and hosted the afternoon show, The Reid Report.
"I am honored and thankful for this opportunity,” Reid said. “I’ll always be proud of the work we did on AM Joy by pushing the envelope and tackling pragmatic conversations. I am eager to carry that same energy into the 7 pm hour where we can continue to build on bringing in diverse, smart and accomplished voices to the table on topics that are important to our viewers.”
Bozoma Saint John– Netflix named Bozoma Saint John as its new Chief Marketing Officer, making her the first Black woman top executive at the worlds largest streaming entertainment company. Saint John succeeds the former CMO, Jackie Lee-Joe, transitioning to Netflix from entertainment and talent agency, Endeavor, where she worked as the head of marketing since 2018. She has over 20 years of experience in branding and marketing capacities having previously worked at Uber, Apple and Pepsi.
“I’m thrilled to join Netlfix, especially at a time when storytelling is critical to our global, societal well-being. I feel honored to contribute my experience to an already dynamic legacy, and to continue driving engagement in the future.”