Guillermo del Toro knows how to create a dark but beautiful atmosphere. He played with the Victorian Gothic in Crimson Peak (2015), and almost ten years earlier with the warped fairy tale Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Who better to take on not one, but two big screen adaptations of Mike Mingola’s iconic comic book creation, Hellboy? Continue reading Hellboy


A Larger Awakening: The Subtext of Black Panther

The first black big screen hero in the Marvel Avengers franchise to earn his own cinematic origins story, Black Panther is many things—a celebration of African diversity and culture, a grand adventure, a reflection on family dynamics, and about the awakening of its hero to social needs outside himself. It has all the pulses and beats of a hero’s story with echoes of a Messianic tale (loss, betrayal, death, and resurrection, with him extending forgiveness to his attacker and being found by ‘the women’), but at its core is a deeper message about forgiveness of the past and shifting the world toward social betterment, instead of violence. Continue reading A Larger Awakening: The Subtext of Black Panther

Not Just Black & White: Dido Elizabeth Belle

In the halls of Kenwood House, a mysterious portrait has fascinated art scholars for hundreds of years. On paper the story seems generic. The Earl and Countess of Mansfield commissioned it, and it portrays their two nieces, Dido Elizabeth Belle and Elizabeth Murray. It’s only when you look at the portrait you see the story, in particular that of the woman on the left, Dido. Dido had an unusual circumstance, she was a mixed-race noblewoman in 18th Century England. More crucially, this portrait depicts both Dido and Elizabeth in equal stature, at a time when any non-white subjects was portrayed in a subservient (if not outright racist) position. This portrait is a main plot device in Amma Asante’s 2013 film Belle, chronicling the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, and her unique social position. Continue reading Not Just Black & White: Dido Elizabeth Belle

More than Mammy: The Life of Hattie McDaniel

The situation for African-American actors in Hollywood is a constant topic of discussion in the industry, and for good reason because it needs improvement. (Remember the #OscarsSoWhite controversy a couple years back?) Black History Month seems like the perfect time to look back at the past for a source of inspiration that black actors working today can utilize going forward. The first African-American Oscar nominee and winner was Hattie McDaniel for 1939’s Gone With the Wind. She won for Best Supporting Actress. Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award win is an undeniable example of why she is a fascinating pioneer. Continue reading More than Mammy: The Life of Hattie McDaniel

The Love Story That Changed a Kingdom

How much social prejudice would you endure to change the world?

In the 1940s, the interracial marriage of Prince Seretse Khama, heir to the Bechuanaland throne, to an English clerk, Ruth Williams, shocked the world. The couple faced criticism from his royal uncle, but soon won over the people of his nation, who were reluctant to lose his leadership. Having banned interracial marriage, the South African government exerted pressure on the United Kingdom to have him removed from power. Since England relied on inexpensive South African gold and uranium, they investigated his leadership, then suppressed the report (which found him fit to rule) and sent him and his wife into exile in 1951. Continue reading The Love Story That Changed a Kingdom

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