Strong Black Leads, A Movement In Hollywood

“This is a new day, built from the ground broken by legends, a day for our generation to see untold experiences of our blackness representing a limitless range of identity, playing kings and queens of our neighborhoods, defeating larger-than-life forces trying to flip our world upside down. We stand up on any stage and every screen. A day when black women are boldly the lead character, whether inmates or scholars. We’re not a genre because there’s no one way to be black. We’re writing while black, nuanced and complex, resilient and strong. This is not a moment. This is a movement. We are Strong Black Leads. Today is a great day in Hollywood.”  

Representation in the media matters, period. During the BET awards on Sunday June 24th, Netflix used their voice to show that they think so too. During the video Stranger Things Star Caleb Mclaughlin says the powerful words above. The video features 47 black talents from the streaming service’s films and shows. Gathering Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Lena Waithe, and Justin Simien Netflix recreated the iconic, “A Great Day In Harlem,” photo from 1958. They were able to create, “A Great Day In Hollywood,”. Netflix’s Strong Black Lead organization orchestrated, what some are rightly so calling, not a moment but a movement.

What is Strong Black Lead?

Started by a group of executives at Netflix, Strong Black Lead “represents an intentional focus from Netflix to talk authentically with the black audience,” said Maya Watson Banks in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. Whilst being director of branding and editorial Banks helps the effort, “Strong Black Lead is relatable and real, always unapologetically black, and assumes context and knowledge so that content doesn’t need to be watered down.”

Who Directed the Video?

The video was directed by Lacey Duke. Duke has directed videos for Janelle Monae, St. Beauty, and The Internet.  In an interview with the Los Angeles Times Duke reflected, “It was beautiful, and in a flash it was over. It was probably the most overwhelming two hours of my career. I was just so happy to be a part of history.”

Who took the Photograph?

Kwaku Alston shot the photo. He has shot Barack Obama and his family, as well as Grammy and Oscar winners.  “It’s an honor to be part of the journey and narrative of what Netflix is trying to accomplish and represent. Photographically, I stand on the shoulders of many who came before me and who have inspired my vision. Paying homage to Art Kane's ‘A Great Day in Harlem’ will be a highlight in my career as an image maker,” Alston reminisced in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

It is truly the beginning of a great era in Hollywood, not a moment but a movement. For more on Netflix’s Strong Black Lead go to, or

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