Guest Post: Why My Leading Ladies Are Always Black


by Jelisa Jay Robinson of Black Girl, Latin World

I remember walking into an audition and being asked by the director, a white women, "Give me Black girl".  I was taken a back but I tried my hardest to pull off what I knew she meant by that.  Let's just say I didn't get the role.

After that train wreck of an audition, I told my mentor what transpired.  One of his jewels of wisdom was to write the characters I wanted to portray. I felt that advice because I was tired of seeing the same character repeated onstage and screen. The soulful-strong-sassy Black chick. She was a rich contrast to my wildflower personality.

So I wrote...

I have been a writer ever since the fourth grade but that was the first time I saw the impact it could have.  No longer did I have to spend hours searching for monologues I could relate to.
That day I wrote my first 20 page play about Black actresses in the audition room called Ice Cold Milk and An Oreo Cookie.  It ended up being performed at my college.

Because They Said "Give Me Black Girl" so I gave...

As I became more immersed in playwrighting, I noticed a pattern in my stories, all the leading women were Black.   It started out as me telling my own quirky stories.  Stories about coming of age Black girls who speak Spanish and listen to pop-rock. Stories about wanting to make a difference, travel and dance.  Stories about falling in love with Brown boys with dreadlocks/manbuns/afros and nose piercings. I began to see that this writing was beyond me.  My writing is for those who need these stories.

Because we are more than sidekicks...

The Black girls in films and television shows I grew up watching were usually the main character's friends and whole plot line was never dependent on her.   They hardly ever experienced love.  In fact, their whole existence was to help the white girl find her Chad Michael Murray look-alike and be a third wheel when they would canoodle at the lunch table.  Let me just say these were not my stories.

Because we are marvelous...

The fact that all my current plays have multifaceted Black women driving them speaks to the beauty of our experiences.  We are marvelous beings whose existence should be valued, not restricted. I write us into these narratives because every time someone sees themselves on the stage, they are reminded of their own importance.

Because little Black girls need it...

I can't say that Black woman will be the center of every story that I write from now on but my identity as one will always be intertwined with my work.  The beauty and brilliance of Black women will always be a muse.  The hope that little Black girls all over the world will fall in love with themselves keeps me writing.

"Give me Black girl"

That director wanted attitude and sass. While that may be beautiful part of some Black women experiences, not recognizing the fact that there is more than one way to be Black girl is...well...not cool.

I'll give you Black girl, alright!

But I will also encourage other Black women to do so because my story is just one of many.

For more enlightenment, please visit Jelisa's blog and follower her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Quirky, Brown Love is a media outlet for quirky, brown millennials. EST 2014.

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