Diverse Perspectives: A Roundtable on Black Representation in Media (Video)

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In honor of Black History Month, we are pleased to host an insightful roundtable discussion focusing on diversity, inclusion, and Black representation in entertainment, media, and beyond. Joining us for this discussion are Crystal Balint (Netflix's The Fall of the House of Usher), Travina Springer (NBC's The Irrational), and actor and filmmaker Reggie Currelley. They will delve into the first time they personally felt represented on screen, how some of their own work has personally impacted them and others, and what needs to change in the entertainment industry in order to keep progress moving forward.

From TV classics like The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to Issa Rae's Insecure, the three stars referred to many different projects in which they felt represented and that have impacted audiences worldwide. Whether it was through seeing Black royalty in Black Panther or Black LGBTQ+ representation in Netflix's Sex Education, they've found resonance. "What I love about I May Destroy You and Insecure is watching people like me be flawed and still be heroes, be real people who are struggling with real, everyday problems like not making enough money or relationships and feeling awkward," shared Balint. "I found those shows really impactful, seeing another side of myself that I generally don't feel comfortable sharing, but it's nice to be able to point to that as an example."

"It's extremely impactful when shows write Black women who are flawed, who do not have it all together, who are not the ones coming in and solving the problem where everyone is relying on them to fix everything," Springer chimed in. "It's really powerful, relatable, and important to see that. I think the real equity will be when we get to be the hot mess and someone can come in and save us. I wanna be soft."

Travina Springer recently starred in one of the many Marvel Cinematic Universe television series on Disney+, Ms. Marvel, as Tyesha, the fiancée and eventual wife of the titular Ms. Marvel's older brother. She shared how playing a Muslim convert, which she herself is, was able to shine a light on the fact that the vast majority of Muslim people are Black and of African descent, though many depictions in media gloss over that fact.

"Playing a Black Muslim woman in the Marvel Universe was a really special opportunity. She's a convert to Islam and she's a 'blerd' (Black nerd) and also a veiled Muslim. There's not a lot of imagery of Black American women who veil who practice Islam on television. It was really transformative to play someone like that, to authentically play a character that I know exists. I had people who were really happy to see themselves represented."

"I would like to see more women directors," said Currelley. "It's great to have these male directors who've been around for years, but for me, it's always hard for a male to tell a female story with authenticity. Ava [DuVernay] is great, but name someone else getting that type of recognition. Everybody can't hang out with Oprah. I've seen some of the most talented Black female directors and no one knows who they are, and that's a shame."

You can view our full discussion above, or tune in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

You can see Travina Springer in NBC's The Irrational, Mondays at 10 p.m., Crystal Balint on Allegiance on CBC TV, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. and streaming on CBC Gem, and Reggie Currelley in A Dark Way Out, now streaming on Tubi.

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