Black History Month: Celebrating Black Filmmakers, Storytellers, and Actors

Posted by on Feb 28, 2024 in People and Culture, Stuff You Should Know

On February 17, 2024, the National Black Movie Association observed National Black Movie Day (NBMD). The association urged everyone to celebrate by watching Black movies at home or in theaters. Viewers were also encouraged to share their favorite Black films, actors, directors, and screenwriters on social media.  

National Black Movie Association 

African-American man using a video camera outdoors.
The National Black Movie Association works to educate and mentor Black filmmakers.

Agnes Moss founded the National Black Movie Association in 2019. She wanted to address the issue of the film industry that left Black movies, actors, and filmmakers out of award ceremonies. The association is made up of filmmakers, movie investors, and other supporters of Black films. The association works to educate and mentor Black students who want to pursue filmmaking. It also champions Black movies, actors, screenwriters, and others in the film industry. The association wants to support the telling of Black stories and increase diversity in films and filmmaking.  

National Black Movie Day  

Before founding the National Black Movie Association, Agnes Moss had the idea for National Black Movie Day (NBMD). She wanted a day for all people to recognize the achievements and contributions of the Black film industry to the world of cinema. Moss first celebrated the day by attending Black films in Washington, D.C., with friends and family in 2016. After she founded the National Black Movie Association, NBMD became a yearly public celebration on the third Saturday of February. 

National Black Movie Day recognizes Black accomplishments in film and draws attention to the lack of diversity in the film industry. A study at the University of Southern California Annenberg examined 1,600 popular movies from 2007 to 2022. The study found that Black actors made up 20 percent of leads or co-lead roles on average. Black actors had only 13.4 percent of speaking roles in these films. Additionally, only 6 percent of these films had Black directors. Luminate, a company that provides data to the entertainment industry, found the number of movies centered around Black stories decreased in 2022 despite an increase in Black actors with lead roles. 

Expanding Platforms 

Streaming platforms, like Netflix, increase opportunities for actors and filmmakers. Actors David Oyelowo, Nate Parker, and Chiké Okonkwo, supporters of NBMD, launched a global streaming platform for Black movies and shows in 2023. They named the platform Mansa after Mansa Musa, the powerful ruler of the Mali Empire in the 1300s in western Africa. Like Moss, Mansa’s founders believe that film helps people understand events and cultures. Both NBMA and Mansa promote Black stories and Black actors and filmmakers to help increase diversity in the film industry. Their goal is to produce accurate portrayals of Black communities worldwide.  

Dig Deeper Conduct research to find out how many Black movies, filmmakers, and actors are being recognized for awards in 2024. Did the number surprise you? What ways can you think of to increase diversity in the film industry?