Featured Life as a Black Girl

To Be Beautiful, Bold, and BLACK on Television

By: Isabella Ntigbu

When watching television as a child, I always tried to find the character that looked like me; black and female. I knew doing so would be hard because the sea of pale faces always overshadowed the colored ones.

I made such an effort to find any black female character to provide myself with a source of self-identification and a way to feel like I was a part of the show too. Because I attended a predominantly white elementary school, most of the examples I modeled after were white and I thought there was no way my golden-brown skin could match the ivory color of my eurocentric peers.

I thought my long box-braids could not compare to a white girl’s long, silky hair. Then, I met Susie Carmichael. I couldn’t believe it: right on my screen was a fellow brown sista’ confidently sporting her braids, singing her soul out, and outshining her blonde best friend with her flawless work ethic.


Susie defied every single black female stereotype I knew. Her locs were portrayed as beautiful, her intellectual superiority was praised, and her parents held highly-esteemed professions that included a physician and a television writer. Finally, I saw a young black girl that not only looked like me, but shared similar characteristics and worldview as me.

Watching Susie on the screen was a confirmation that I, too, am the face of America. Throughout my childhood I had the liberty to meet other melanated cartoon sistas as well: Numbah 5 from Codename: Kids Next Door taught me that black females could be bad-ass without being labeled as the “angry black woman.” Penny from The Proud Family reminded me that I could have both swag AND a 4.0 GPA. and that a Black person does not have to be defined into only one category.

proud family


Cartoons were not the only facet of media where I received my archetypes for black girl magic. Pre-teen/teen sitcoms like That’s So Raven and True Jackson VP pushed me to strive for excellence no matter what the age or race. That’s So Raven, introduced me to many issues that females face such as body image, discrimination, and harboring big career goals where black women are not well-represented.

The episodes of the show ranged from Raven speaking out against a fashion show that claimed she must be at least a size 2 to walk down the runway, to always working hard to pursue her dream as a fashion designer. That’s So Raven made me realize that I did not have to conform to society’s ideal of a perfect “image” and that my dreams were valid, no matter what color I was.


True Jackson VP was a show where I saw what it was like for a black woman to really be running the show. Seeing True become the Vice President of a highly prestigious fashion company made me realize that there are black females who are capable of handling the big corporations where society would usually think is only fit for the role of a white male. TV programs like That’s So Raven and True Jackson V.P. broke racial stereotypes and normalized black females pursuing big dreams.

In addition to the influential television shows I came across, there were a few poignant films that helped to form my racial identity growing up in American society. The Color of Friendship and Akeelah and the Bee are two examples of these. Piper from The Color of Friendship inspired me to embrace the “angry black girl” stereotype. Her unapologetic/unwavering attitude about racial injustice, especially pertaining to South African apartheid, helped me realize that there is no shame in being politically and socially conscious.

color of

In the past I would hold my tongue on racial issues due to my fear of offending others. But after watching The Color Friendship, I knew that in order for situations to change, people had to vocalize the issues.

Akeelah and the Bee was a movie that really encouraged my academic talents as a black woman. Being that I was never that kid who had sports/dance/theatre lessons after school, my literary/writing interests were the only thing I could say I excelled at and wanted to pursue. However, the media seemed to only praise the black kids who were shining in athletics or the music industry. I saw a complete 180 degree turn from this stereotype after watching Akeelah and the Bee.



For once I saw a black person, female at that, being recognized for her superior intellectual abilities. Akeelah’s community encouraged her to rise in her spelling talent and make it to the National Bee; the same way a community would be rooting for the town’s star ball player. This film validated the importance of black people pursuing their academic talents as much as they would their athletic/performance talents.

Fast forward to my high school career, I realized that almost all of the TV dramas I loved (Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, 90210, etc) lacked people of color as the protagonists. Couldn’t black people lead their own show and embody all of the qualities that makes someone the TV hero/heroine? Then, I tuned into Scandal. Olivia Pope, the protagonist of Scandal, was nothing short of powerful, beautiful, daring, and BLACK.


I had never witnessed a black woman carry such a commanding role in such an influential show. The most amazing aspect of Ms. Pope was that she was a super-woman. She could do it ALL, and her blackness was never a barrier, but an asset. Shonda Rhimes’s creation of the show did not only provide me with a model that has furthered my career aspirations to inspire and change those around me, but made me realize that Rhimes, herself, has opened the doors for people of color to shine in their own respective right. In an entertainment industry dominated by white people, it is important that people of color create opportunities where all shades of skin can be properly represented in the media.

Due to the inspiration of these black, female personalities, I aspire to be an entertainment news correspondent/anchor that will integrate more awareness and appreciation of diversity in the media.  I hope to promote and discuss upcoming/ongoing films, TV shows, music, and even books that are highlighting characters of color, so that I will be able to share that same sense of pride I experienced when viewing programs that were a direct reflection of me.

I will forever be grateful for having the opportunity to view these programs and films that have ignited that fire within me to break barriers for people of color, and to know that the media broadcasting people of color is only the beginning to a more “colorful” television, and nation.

Do you have a favorite black female TV/movie character who taught you something about your blackness while growing? If so please share in the comment section below.

Leave a Reply

30 Comments on "To Be Beautiful, Bold, and BLACK on Television"

Leave a Comment

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
1 year 10 months ago

Theses characters are great, and they definitely help to display black girls is positive and powerful roles. Let’s not forget about the iconic girl clique of A Different World, Whitely, Freddie and Kim. Each have their own unique personalities. Whitley being the boujie businesswoman, Kim being the focused and determined student who likes a good time, and Freddie, the young care-free activist with a voice like no other. All of the characters are positive influences for the black girl community. There needs to be more of the modern day. We only have a few, like Zendaya and Olivia Pope. Also… Read more »

1 month 30 days ago

patagonia sale

I’m having a little problem I cant subscribe your rss feed, I’m using google reader fyi.


womens moncler jackets on sale

preceding poser wispy soloman vitality Dyanne Melba mudslinger qualitative

1 month 27 days ago

cheap roger vivier

Exceptional Stuff, granting I would be in possession to assert that given the number of views this has received it may be desirability thinking about trying to sharpen the spelling and the english! Made a really good read though, excellent matter.

1 month 25 days ago

merrell sale

Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory Id like to write like this too taking time and real effort to make a good article but what can I say I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

1 month 24 days ago

rene caovilla canada

This is some agreeable material. It took me some time to finally find this web page but it was worth the time. I noticed this article was buried in yahoo and not the first spot. This web site has a lot of fine stuff and it doesnt deserve to be burried…

1 month 13 days ago

Roberto Cavalli store online

A helpful post, I just passed this onto a co-worker who was doing a little analysis on that. And he in fact bought me dinner because I discovered it for him. smile.. So let me reword that: Thanks for the treat! But yeah Thank you for spending the time…

1 month 12 days ago

ralph lauren factory outlet

Considerably, the write-up is absolutely the sweetest on this noteworthy topic. I harmonise with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your approaching updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantastic clarity ins…

1 month 10 days ago

pierre hardy for sale

i would to see this on the ps3 and its so addicting played since july and im still not bored with it

1 month 8 days ago

reebok outlet store

What i do not understood is actually how you are not actually much more well-liked than you might be now. You are so intelligent. You realize therefore considerably relating to this subject, produced me personally consider it from so many varied angles…

1 month 7 days ago

louis vuitton outlet usa

Hi, I just discovered your blog via Msn. Your own article is actually pertinent to my life at this moment, and I am really happy I ran across your blog post.

1 month 5 days ago

factory coach outlet

Kudos for the great article. I am glad I have taken the time to learn this.

30 days 10 hours ago

balmain online

I liked up to you will obtain performed proper hereThe sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylishnevertheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you wish be turning in the followingill undoubtedly come further earlier once more…

29 days 4 hours ago

mbt tank

Thank you for that sensible critique. Me & my neighbour were preparing to do some research about that. We acquired a good book on that matter from our local library and most books exactly where not as influensive as your details. Im quite glad to s…

26 days 7 hours ago

Pierre Hardy sale

bielke verros meira belladonna thammas caliman landgard Eleonore electricity

25 days 8 hours ago

arcteryx sale canada

I was researching the internet for some information since yesterday night and I finally found this! This is a impressive webpage by the way, except it appears a little hard to see in my verison phone.

22 days 22 hours ago

arcteryx outlet online

Thanks for taking the time to talk about this, I feel strongly about it and enjoy mastering extra on this topic. If possible, as you acquire expertise, would you mind updating your weblog with far more data? It is very useful for me.

21 days 23 hours ago

longchamp outlet usa

TY a ton for writing this, it was quite helpful and helped me quite a bit

19 days 10 hours ago

factory mk outlet

Many thanks for spreading this kind of excellent subject matter on your site. I discovered it on the search engines. I am going to check to come back once you publish much more aricles.

18 days 11 hours ago

stuart weitzman sale saks

I really like your blog and i respect your writing. I’ll be a frequent visitor for sure! How can I subscribe to RSS?

15 days 22 hours ago

Rene Caovilla store online

This sort of thing needs to happen! Really its a must to take a look past everything and get upset. Now this will let you take the next steps to becoming successful.

15 days 40 minutes ago

ugg boots on sale for women

Its Pleasure to realize your blog.The above articles is relatively extraordinary, and I extremely enjoyed reading your blog and points that you expressed. I incredibly like to glimpse back on a typical basis,post additional during the topic.Thanks for…

14 days 2 hours ago

… [Trackback]

[…] Find More on|Find More|Find More Informations here|There you can find 13141 additional Informations|Informations to that Topic: myblackmatters.com/to-be-beautiful-bold-and-black-on-television/ […]

12 days 13 hours ago

jimmy choo outlet

Fascinating information! I cant believe Ive finally found the information Ive been searching for for so long. Thank you!

12 days 5 hours ago

rene caovilla slippers

Hey, I remember, much too long since the last time I was here some. Well okay. I need it something I am working on, lucky it has a similar topic as this post. Glad, happy trails.

9 days 18 hours ago

fitflop outlet store

I sincerely took delight in reading your webpage, you explained some high-quality points. I want to bookmark your post. I saved you to delicious and yahoo bookmarks. I will attempt to revisit to your web page and examine more posts.

7 days 8 hours ago

balmain dresses replica

2. Good post over again. I am looking forward for more updates.


Mountain Hardwear store online

Im getting a javascript error, is anyone else?

3 days 20 hours ago

berghaus womens fleece sale

Cool, there is really some excellent details on here, many of my followers will possibly find this related, will send a backlink, cheers.


cheap berghaus waterproof jackets

Fantastic blog post. I was checking constantly to this weblog & Im really inspired! Extremely helpful information, especially the third part. I really need this kind of information. I was seeking this kind of knowledge for quite some times. Thank y…