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This is What Betting on Black Looks Like

Photo graphic by Noah Green

Remember when Issa Rae said she was betting on everybody Black at the 2020 Emmys? Well, the 2023 Golden Globes paid that call off. This year, Black women finally got their roses from the film industry. Representation for Black women has been a battle, and it is refreshing for everyone to finally see Black women being celebrated, awarded, and given their dues. As one of the most overlooked demographics in the United States, it is important to recognize the accomplishments of Black women and empower them to continue their journey. Only a handful of Black women have received a Golden Globe for their theatrical performances. The most notable are Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg, Octavia Spencer, and Lupita Nyong’o. Popular actress from the hit drama The Bear, commonly referred to on social media as “The People’s Princess,” Ayo Edebiri has made a giant splash in pop culture. In honor of her win, let’s walk down memory lane and revisit some of her recent work.

Recently, a new archetype of representation for Black women and girls has presented itself in pop culture, “the awkward Black girl.”  Socially coined by Issa Rae as it’s a reference to one of her first YouTube web series, Awkward Black Girl, and later her memoir, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. However, for those unfamiliar with the term, the “awkward Black girl” is simply a Black girl who is introverted, has a passion for niche interests, or is heavily involved in nerd culture. Her role as Sydney, the sarcastic, passionate, slightly awkward sous chef to Carmy,  Jeremy Allen White’s character, fits her perfectly. In television, Black female characters like Sydney challenge people’s perception of what Black representation can look like on screen, and audiences are eager to see more. To new audiences, she was a breath of fresh air and relatability. 

For those just getting to know Edebiri’s work, just looking at her IMDb, Edebiri has been a part of a little bit of everything, from writing to producing to acting. Her beginnings were at Comedy Central’s Up Next doing stand-up back in 2020/2021, before pivoting in 2022 and offering her writing abilities to shows such as What We Do in the Shadows, Craig of the Creek, and Netflix’s Big Mouth. Then The Bear happened; we finally saw Edebiri on screen, and the world fell in love with her.  Anyone on TikTok can see the show's impact, from fan edits to YouTube video essays and think pieces; there is more than enough proof that The Bear is a captivating show that leaves fans wanting more. From there, it was onward and upward in her stardom, getting featured for voice-acting work in roles such as Harriet Tubman from Clone High, April O’Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, and background character Glory Grant from Spiderman: Across The Spiderverse. Of course, there’s also the hilarious, coming-of-age, romantic-comedy Bottoms, where audiences see Ayo Edebiri return to the big screen as she joins forces again with her former Comedy Central partner Rachel Sennott. Things are looking good for Edebiri, and everyone is rooting for her to continue growing and thriving. 

It is important to recognize that while the celebration for Ayo Edebiri is well deserved, this type of treatment shouldn’t be a one-off occurrence. With Niecy Nash, Da-Vine Joy Randolph, and Quinta Brunson joining the ranks of Black women with Golden Globes, there is hope that the film industry is ready for the talents of Black women. Black women deserved to be consistently celebrated and recognized for their contributions to society inside and outside the entertainment industry. Congratulations to Edebiri; however, we, as an audience, have more work to do.

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