Onward: New rules, smart women, and endless potential

2016 in was a doozy. I don’t usually make resolutions, but this year I promised to look forward and not lament on the could-have-been. Despite how exhausting last year was I feel like there were a lot of things that helped set the groundwork for a better future… Well, as better as the future can get in the world’s current state. It’s time to focus on some positives, so here’s a few of my favorite things I hope keep happening in the push for diversity:

BAFTA’s new diversity rule – Starting in 2019 for a film to be considered for an award, filmmakers must demonstrate they “worked to increase the representation of under-represented groups.” They must demonstrate this through on-screen representation, behind the screen, creative leadership roles, or accessibility. To be blatant about inclusion is exactly what we need in a time where Hollywood churns out movie after movie with the same actors and same narratives. After #OscarsSoWhite maybe the Academy will take note and follow suit towards this brave, new world.

Hidden Figures – I feel I started my year off right after watching this movie. It’s a story I’ve never been told despite living just one city over from the NASA’s space center. Women at NASA: it’s something you’d think my teachers would have at least tried to mention once or twice during a history lesson. Growing up as a black girl in the south I was aware of how resilient my mother and grandmothers had to be during those times. But I didn’t know that not only were black women surviving, but thriving. Thriving at NASA! I hope this trend of biopics of people of color continues – especially with women of color. I want more. More women of color in space, more as scientists, inventors, and leaders. And from the looks of the film’s performance my dream just might come true. If Hollywood loves one thing it’s making a movie that’s capable of capturing a high spot at the box office. And now that they know these stories have an audience it’s likely we’ll get more.

Marvel’s Black Panther – I’m one of those consumers who has been experiencing superhero fatigue. But, not even that is going to stop me from anticipating the 2018 release of this film because for the first time in the Marvel universe dark-skinned women (Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyoung’o, and newcomer Florence Kasumba) have actual roles. I mean, Alfre Woodard’s scene in Captian America: Civil War was great and all, but not really vital. I’m ready to see these three women kick ass, take names and fall in love because why not have it all?

Though these are just a few gems in the rubble that 2016 left behind I think it’s enough to incite hope. There’s no denying that all media, be it literature, film or television is moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to widening the net of narratives. But there’s also no denying that we’re moving. I hope the future surprises me with stories I’ve never heard of like that of Katherine Johnson and the women at NASA. I hope industry leaders work harder towards cultivating a community that welcomes more than one type of storyteller. I hope we leave the disappointment that was 2016 behind and exchange it for a more inclusion, knowledge, and color.