The need for escapism has driven Black Twitter toward Hollywood. The new Netflix series, which uses marginalized voices to reimagine the height of Tinseltown’s glamour, has been the talk of the timeline.
Executive-produced by Janet Mock, who wrote and directed a portion of the series, and created by Ryan Murphy, Hollywood uplifts those ignored by the original star makers. Viewers know the narratives were spun to center marginalized experiences and champion the talents of people who are not the typical straight White protagonist. In this fantasy version of Tinseltown, everyone gets a voice. In today’s reality, the volume of those voices is not all the same.
Former Black Women in Hollywood honoree Janet Mock, who became the first Black transgender woman to sign a huge content development deal with Netflix, recently said that although her series is shining a light on those often hidden in the shadows, the reality is we still have far to go.
“I think about the burden of representation that falls on the shoulders of those who are the first. I think about the ways in which oftentimes we have to do so much added work, educating people about why we deserve to be in the room, why our stories matter [and] why we should be the ones to tell it,” Mock told The Root.
The TV writer and author noted that while it may seem as though it’s easier to create today compared with the 1940s, there are still systems in place that limit everyone’s ability to be fully heard. She has suggestions for those at the top.
“I think that what gatekeepers and decision makers can do today is make sure that they’re not only recruiting diverse talent into the room but making sure that they’re equipping them with the skills necessary to thrive in this space and that they ensure that they’re not tokens, that they’re deeply engaging all of them, all of their talents [and] all of their skills,” Mock detailed.
“I think what’s really dangerous sometimes is that industry gatekeepers pat themselves on the back for having one. But having one is not progress,” she continued. “That’s not going to institute any kind of change. It’s when you can actually make sure that you’re developing a slew [and] an ensemble of collaborators with different points of view, different identities and different ways of doing things.”
Mock revealed what she hopes Hollywood will accomplish through its purposeful and diverse storytelling.
“I hope that what [this series] does is that it allows specifically Black and Brown, LGBTQ people and women of color to say that you’re deserving of being on that screen and you’re deserving of seeing your story on that screen,” she said.
Hollywood, streaming now on Netflix, stars Jeremy Pope as a young Black screenwriter; Laura Harrier, who plays a burgeoning young Black actress trying to make her mark in Hollywood; and Queen Latifah, who plays the first-ever Black Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel.