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Black Actors Cross Over From Movies to Primetime


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Watching “Martin” this weekend on BET was a true flashback. In my apartment complex we don’t have MTV2 or TV One, where they play shows such as “Martin” frequently. Since I opted not to pay for a cable box this was the best way to enjoy a weekend with Hurricane Joaquin.

I almost started crying as it stopped playing Sunday night. The marathon made me appreciate good black TV. Growing up in the 90’s, though most of us may not have been at the appropriate age to watch some shows, many networks at that time were dedicated to their black viewers.

Most don’t know that “Martin” used to be on Fox and even stood in a line up alongside “Living Single” and “New York Undercover” on Thursdays.

Networks like UPN and WB were also networks that catered to their black viewers. Today primetime television networks are interested in us again.

This makes me wonder why? Which only triggers one answer, since we were brought into this country as Africans, America’s culture has conformed around us. From music, to literature, to now even roles on TV.

When you look at TV today it has changed drastically.

Priyanka Chopra from “The New Hitch” is the first Indian actor to star in a lead role in an American series. Chopra stars on ABC’s new drama, “Quantico”.

When asked about the diversity on shows like “Blackish” and “Scandal” on an interview with “Good Morning America”, Chopra said “I think it’s amazing… If you look around you right now the girl next door looks different. You can’t say she looks a certain way and I think that’s the best time to be in entertainment.”

When you think back over the past twenty years you haven’t seen many black faces on primetime TV. We saw our Morris Chestnuts, Meagan Goods, Kerry Washingtons, Viola Davis’, Taraji P. Hensons and Terrence Howards in movies. We didn’t have our own primetime shows with skyrocketing ratings.

TV ratings have a new level of competition. The internet which contributed to networks finding better shows that will cause people to turn on the TV again instead of logging on to Netflix.

Back in January CNN said, “This is the Year of the African- American viewer.”

In 2013, Nielsen, which is a company that studies more than 100 countries to provide more trend and habits to clients, reported that AfricanAmerican viewers carry a lot of weight when it comes to audience and purchasing power.

It also found that African Americans enjoy programs with a diverse cast and African American women watch more than TV then men.

Fall premiers this year like “Minority Report” with Meagan Good and “Rosewood” with Morris Chestnut. TV has learned that one size doesn’t fit all and have given in to our demands.

That spin from movie theaters to prime time TV networks is beautiful and should be applauded.

Taylor Young – Editor in Chief

– Email Taylor at [email protected] aggies.ncat.edu and follow her on Twitter @sweeteey94

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Black Actors Cross Over From Movies to Primetime