Since 2020, there has been a noticeable increase in Black representation in movies and television. A 2021 study conducted by Variety, found that Black talent logged the highest rate of representation gains across racial and ethnic lines. During the pandemic, 70.5% of series releases featured a Black series regular. The number of movies released with Black talent also increased to 58.7% from 56.1%. The following Black women are pushing the culture forward in their roles behind the scenes of our favorite platforms, shows, and films.
Shortly after being promoted to Executive Vice President (EVP) of Creative Development and Strategy, Ayo Davis has become the new President of Disney Branded Television. She is the first Black woman to hold the role. Appointed by the Chairman of Disney General Entertainment Peter Rice, Davis took over for former President Gary Marsh. After 20+ years with Disney, Davis now oversees operations that include programming, strategy, development, casting, business affairs and marketing for scripted, unscripted and animation across platforms and channels for Disney Plus, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior.
Black, Nonbinary Actors Make Representation Gains Amid Pandemic – Variety
Ayo Davis Named EVP of ABC and Disney+ Talent and Casting – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel | Black News (lasentinel.net)
Netflix’s “The Old Guard” — a new franchise for director Gina Prince-Bythewood in the superhero world? – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel | Black News (lasentinel.net)
TriStar TV’s Kathryn Busby Joins Starz As President Of Original Programming – Deadline
In addition to Davis’ many leadership roles at Disney, she was also a part of the ABC Entertainment team. During her time as EVP of talent casting at ABC, she worked on notable shows like “How to Get Away with Murder” and “black-ish.” Davis championed careers of famous actors and actresses like Eva Longoria, Viola Davis, Jesse Williams, and Gina Rodriguez. Her legacy and imprint are inspiring to young Black female television executives.
Los Angeles native Gina Prince-Bythewood is a living icon that continues to push the boundaries of Black stories. Best known for writing and directing her first movie “Love & Basketball,” and writing on the hit television series “A Different World,” her resume also consists of “The Secret Life of Bees” and “Disappearing Acts.” She is the first Black woman to direct a superhero movie, “The Old Guard,” based on the novel by Greg Rucka. It premiered on Netflix in July 2020 and was the 6th most popular film on the platform.
Bythewood’s most recent project “The Woman King,” highlights the history of Black women beyond slavery, showing their resilience, strength, and intelligence. Much like the movie, Bythewood’s storytelling and directing connects the audience with important messages about the past, present, and future. During her career she has received over 15 awards for her contributions to the industry. Bythewood’s impact is respected and needed, to continue the conversation around Black representation in Hollywood.
Former EVP of Sony Pictures and TriStar Television, and Vice President of Original Programming at TBS, Kathryn Busby is now the President of Original Programming at STARZ. With 25 years of experience under her belt, Busby has held leadership roles at Sony Pictures Television, Turner Broadcasting, New Line Cinema, The Carsey-Werner Company, and Universal Television. She was an Executive Producer (EP) of the first Sex and the City movie, which grossed $415 million world-wide.
In January 2022, Busby was appointed chair of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) North American Board, after being elected as chair of the board of directors of BAFTA Los Angeles in 2019. She also serves on the board of directors of Philanthropy and Community Engagement (PACE) and the Sony Pictures Action Council, which implemented the studio’s racial equity and inclusion initiatives. Busby is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and producer. Her debut film, “My Purple Fur Coat,” won Best Children’s Short at the Houston Black Film Festival. Busby’s cultural integrity is evident in her work.
When Black women lead, they make history. Their influence spans generations and cultures through visual mediums like film and television. These Black women have made extraordinary contributions to our societies and will continue to push the culture forward.