Call it the Scandal effect. Because of the hit drama starring Kerry Washington, Black actresses are in demand on TV dramas. Though there may not enough Black actresses on comedies right now, in dramas, they are getting fascinating new roles.
Halle Berry is set to star in an upcoming sci-fi series on CBS produced by Steven Spielberg. ( After maternity leave , of course.) Octavia Butler is in talks to star in a revival of Murder, She Wrote, and Being Mary Jane is set to premiere next year on BET with Gabrielle Union. More refreshing than the presence of Black actresses on TV is the diversity of the roles.
Many Black actresses were relegated to guest stars or undeveloped characters until recently. Washington stars as the commanding fixer Olivia Pope in an addictive political drama. Creator Shondra Rimes has created numerous multidimensional roles for Black women on her other hit show, Grey’s Anatomy. Nicole Baharie is a co-star on the cult hit Sleepy Hollow. She is not just the sidekick to lead actor Tom Mison. She actively solves mysteries and is a real asset to the show. She and Angela Bassett of American Horror Story are stars in mystery/horror series, a rarity for African-American actresses. The preview of Union’s show portrays the main character as a realistic woman facing personal and professional issues in the sneak preview of the comedy-drama.
Though there are still too few Black actresses on TV in lead roles in dramas, hopefully, this will be the star t of more diversity in TV. To be honest, the only color Hollywood cares about is green. If viewers of all races support quality shows starring Black actresses, there will be more to follow.