Opinion: It’s about time

McKenzie Jean-Philippe

McKenzie Jean-Philippe

McKenzie Jean-Philippe

It’s about time that the “who’s who” of the entertainment industry have acknowledged that people with a little more melanin have more to contribute than comedians in voluptuous grandma suits, that we’re more than gangsters wreaking havoc in urban streets. We’re more than the sassy best friend whose go-to catchphrase is “guuuurrrlll” (and yes, it’s spelled exactly like that).

As the Golden Globes — and now the Oscars — have shown, minorities do not only create fresh content that appeals to the masses, but they are capable of competing en masse for the highest honor in their field, on par with the many white honorees that came before them.

Earlier this month, “Moonlight” won Best Motion Picture Drama at the Golden Globes, a film directed and written by a black man, starring a black cast. It’s nominated for eight Oscars.

Donald Glover earned a Golden Globe for best actor in a television series musical or comedy for the FX series “Atlanta.” The show also won best television series — musical or comedy — earning more accolades for Glover, the creator and an executive producer on the show.

After Oscar nominations were announced two days ago, Viola Davis, Naomie Harris and Octavia Spencer — three black women — who starred in “Fences,” “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures,” respectively, were all nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category. This is historic: It’s the first time that three black women have been independent nominees for any category. For the first time, black people are the majority.

There are plenty more shows, movies and stars I could name: Ruth Nega from “Loving,” Netflix shows “Chewing Gum” and “The Get Down” and Ava DuVernay’s eye-opening documentary, “13th.” It’s amazing that after a few years of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Hollywood has woken up and provided us with a variety of content that’s a little more reflective of our country’s diversity.

It took them long enough.

What’s most striking is despite these strides in representation, our country couldn’t be more socially and politically divided. We now have a president whom many feel doesn’t represent inclusion or acceptance of differences. Rejection of his leadership comes in the form of protests, petitions and Facebook shares.

But that’s what’s great about the newfound diversity in Hollywood; people turn on the TV, buy movie tickets and flip open their laptops for an escape. Now, despite the disappointments of reality, that escape can provide some hope.

Here’s to hoping that the strides made in 2016 aren’t a one time thing, that this welcomed change isn’t the “token black friend” to the film and television industry. Diversity is necessary, and now is as good a time as ever to celebrate it, perhaps with an episode of “Black-ish.”

McKenzie-Jean Philippe is the diversity editor, contact her at [email protected]