The Women

Why The Women of “Black Panther” May Not Improve The Forecast for Dark-Skinned Actresses

Ezinne Ukoha
6 min readFeb 20, 2018


Black Panther has evolved into the cultural phenom that we all predicated it would be and even though some of us are yet to partake in all its glory — the evidence splattered all over timelines — is hard to ignore.

Now we know beyond any doubt that films featuring an all-Black cast are the shit.

We thought we saw what diversity can do with other blockbusters like the Fast franchise — which to be honest isn’t as “diverse” as it touts itself to be when you consider the astounding fact that no Black woman with dark-skin matching Tyrese — has ever been cast either as one of the gang or even an extra.

But — now we have all-star, super hero flick that is still piling up a shitload of box office receipts both at home and abroad and the best part is undoubtedly the women who are making history in ways that summon mixed feelings of pride and shock.

Pride — because as a dark-skinned woman with wooly hair and a broad nose — I can’t wait to experience the joy and validation of witnessing how the big screen will fill up with images that represent my aesthetic — without filters or sporadic appearances.

Shock — at the fact that it has taken this long to prove how versatile, appealing, and viable dark-skinned women can be if only the opportunities were to present themselves in the form of studio executives — who have spent decades — evading the “risk factor” of casting actresses — who don’t produce the assurances of profitable investments that their White counterparts naturally evoke.

White actresses are permitted to start off in the ingenue phase before they ripen to leading lady status. From Julia Roberts to Emma Stone — we are all privy to the early days of their modestly-rewarding careers — before the starring role of a lifetime advances them into the gold-plated rolodex of the top producers in the game.

Black actresses aren’t nearly as lucky.

And the ones that sort of come close to the blessed trajectories — have to be ambiguous enough to give their leading men the confidence they need — to retain their manliness. Bi-racial or…



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