10 Movies Featuring Black Actors You Should Watch

Over the past couple of weeks with everything that has been going on, I have had lots of time to reflect.  With basically the whole world joining in on the Black Lives Matter movement, I started really thinking about the black experience.  Mostly I thought about the world I grew up in. 

I love movies, and have since I was a kid.  Movies are such a great form of artistic expression and they entertain us.  What struck me was, I couldn’t really recall any films from my teen years that featured black actors.  Sure, there were black actors in the films I watched but, they were always the “token black character.” 

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For those of you not familiar with this expression, basically it means a black person that is just placed in a film so that directors and studios can claim they have a diverse cast.  They have minimal to no lines and are always the ones backing up the white characters as the voice of reason with the positive “you got this!” type of attitude. 

I don’t want to sound negative about this but it’s true and it was all I ever really knew.  It’s unfortunate that it’s taken so long for black actors to get their fair amount of screen time because there are some very talented black actors and so many amazing films. 

Here’s a list of 10 movies featuring black actors you should watch.


House Party

What it’s about:

Kid (Christopher Reid) decides to go to his friend Play’s (Christopher Martin) house party, but neither of them can predict what’s in store for them on what could be the wildest night of their lives.

Why you should watch: We’ve all seen movies about kids having house parties but this is by far one of my favorites.  It’s a classic film from the early 90s about teens just being teens.  This film makes me laugh and it’s just genuinely a fun film to watch.  The dance scenes are great and so is the music.  The cast is all great and I just love Kid (Reid) and Play’s (Martin) interactions.  I should point out, while the movie is fun, it does throw in an element of being racially profiled by the police even though it does it in a slightly comical way. 

House Party is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.  

Boyz n the Hood

What it’s about: 

Follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence, and future prospects.

Why you should watch: Now, this film directed by the late John Singleton is one I still have yet to watch.  Sometimes certain films that deal with the black experience can be painful to watch and this film is an example of that.  It’s an important film to watch and it deals with the issues still going on in the black community today.

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Boyz n the Hood is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. 

Good Hair

What it’s about: 

Prompted by a question from his young daughter, comic Chris Rock sets out to explore the importance of hair in black culture. Rock interviews celebrities such as Ice-T and Raven Symone, and visits hair salons, stylist competitions and even an Indian temple to learn about hair culture.

Why you should watch: Ahh, black hair.  A continuous topic of interest for non POC.  I’ve had my fair share of the “Is that all yours?,” “Can I touch it?,” and “How do you get it that straight?” questions.  It can be aggravating and I definitely think about my hair all of the time and how i’ll be perceived based on how it looks.  Good Hair provides a lesson in black hair that will answer your questions and make you think.

Good Hair is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Black Panther

What it’s about:

T’Challa, (Chadwick Boseman) heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past.

Why you should watch: I really don’t think I need to tell anyone why they should watch this film because I’m sure most Marvel fans have.  If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out.  This film is just excellent and there is no other word to describe it.  Do you know how excited I was to watch a superhero film featuring a black cast? it was long overdue and so worth the wait.

Black Panther is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. 

The Hate U Give

What it’s about:

Starr (Amandla Stenberg) witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil (Algee Smith) at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

Why you should watch: This film based on the book by Angie Thomas is about exactly what’s happening right now.  Just turn on your TV and you can see we’re living in this movie.  People of color are losing their lives regularly and unfortunately a vast majority is at the hands of police.  The Hate U Give explores the aftermath of how the black community is affected by this type of violence.  It’s a sad and eye-opening film that everyone needs to see.   

The Hate U Give is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and Google Play.

Fences

What it’s about:

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis star in this adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which centers on a black garbage collector named Troy Maxson (Washington) in 1950s Pittsburgh. Bitter that baseball’s color barrier was only broken after his own heyday in the Negro Leagues, Maxson is prone to taking out his frustrations on his loved ones. 

Why you should watch: This film is a perfect example of the effects of racism.  Troy was a talented baseball player who never got to make it big in the Majors due to the color barrier.  Since then, he’s lived his life resentful and filled with animosity that he takes out on his family mainly his son Cory (Jovan Adepo). Troy can’t let go of what could have been and it rules every aspect of his life.

Fences is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. 

Pariah

What it’s about: 

A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

Why you should watch: This is an important film that any teen coming to terms with their sexuality can relate to.  Most importantly, it’s a film that black teens who are struggling with their sexuality can relate to. 

Pariah is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Dear White People

What it’s about:

Dear White People is a sly, provocative satire of race relations in the age of Obama. Writer/director Justin Simien follows a group of African American students as they navigate campus life and racial politics at a predominantly white college 

Why you should watch: This film is an exploration of the racial tension between black and white people.  Although it does have some comedic moments, it deals with some real issues.

Dear White People is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. 

Hidden Figures

What it’s about: 

The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

Why you should watch: As I get older I’m finding out more and more all the contributions black people made over the years that have gone unnoticed.  Hidden Figures is not just about black people, it’s about black women.  Black women who were educated and had a hand in one of the most significant moments in history.  I think anyone interested in all things space, needs to watch this.  Katherine (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy (Octavia Spencer), and Mary (Janelle Monae), deserve to be recognized for their achievements. And ignore the “white savior” element, because the women are what matters. They changed the world.

Hidden Figures is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. 

Detroit

What it’s about:

Fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots in which a group of rogue police officers respond to a complaint with retribution rather than justice on their minds.

Why you should watch: They say history repeats itself and that definitely seems to be the case.  Detroit is another film that will have you thinking about the current state of the world.  It deals with similar issues that we are still facing at this current moment in time. 

Detroit is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. 

Which of these films have you seen? Which do you plan on checking out? let us know in the comments. 

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