Surrounded by my stuffed animal audience and my beloved poster of Michael Jackson, I repeated the same sentences over and over again for hours every day. I was 10 years old, and I was preparing for my big debut in a community theater play about Black History Month. I said the words so many times, but it was only the day before the play that I listened to myself and swallowed their meaning:
"…[Walks onto stage] Mama can you tell me about Dr. King? Everyone says he was a great man. A man with a dream for justice, peace and equality. Am I a part of his dream?"
This play was a milestone in my childhood. It awoke a passion in me to learn more about the stories of my history – our history as Americans – and how we tell them. I can remember sitting down with my family to watch ‘Eyes on the Prize’ and how important it was to my parents to have access to educational, historical TV content during my formative years.
Making sure content like that has a home is part of what makes my job meaningful. With that intent, our team launched a new permanent collection in the ‘Black Film & TV’ destination of Xfinity on Demand called "Black History Always On".
This collection tells the stories we need to hear and includes more than 100 titles of content including historical documentaries, biographical films, Comcast’s original Voices of the Civil Rights Movement profiles, specials from networks like Smithsonian Channel and much more. It will serve as the permanent place on our Xfinity on Demand platform to learn about this community year round.
Something else I remember about that community play experience was the director: a black woman who was in charge of everything happening on the stage, behind it and in the orchestra pit. She had complete command of the show and I remember being in awe of her.
There’s something about seeing someone who looks like you doing extraordinary things that’s just inspiring. *In fact a recent study showed that +60% of black millennials agree that it feels really good to see stars in media who share their ethnic background.
That’s one of the reasons that this month our Black Film & TV destination includes a section called ‘Black Women Behind the Scenes’ that puts a spotlight on directing, producing, writing for, costuming and even risking life and limb as stunt women behind the scenes of popular TV and film productions. We captured intimate one-on-one conversations with talented women like Gina Prince Bythewood, Susan Fales Hill, Effie Brown, Kay Oyegun, LaFaye Baker, Quinta Brunson and Franchesca Ramsey to name a few. We even got a few men to weigh in like Prentice Penny, David E. Talbert, Malcom D. Lee and Reggie Rock Bythewood. Our network partners participated too by capturing conversations with their women behind the camera including Tasha Smith and D’Angela Proctor for TV One, Zola Mashariki and Connie Orlando for BET, Terri J. Vaughn for Aspire and Lucy Chodota for The Africa Channel to name a few. The insider perspectives, reflections and personal stories of triumph from all of these women will move and inspire you.
Last but certainly not least, Comcast believes in independent black filmmaking. We’re excited to officially announce we have partnered with American Black Film Festival and BlackStar Film Festival to launch a special collection through our Streampix on demand service, which is licensing short and feature length films and webisodes from alumni filmmakers who screened their works at past festivals. With these new partnerships we’re using the power of our Xfinity on Demand platform to invest in the black film making community and showcase the work of these talented filmmakers to an even broader audience.
I don’t know about you but the up tick of content showcasing the depth, breadth and diversity of the black experience inspires me. Here’s hoping the growth continues so that both the small screens and the big screens, in front of and behind the camera, better reflect the diverse communities in which we live.
We are proud to create and launch a collection of content and stories that parents can sit down with their kids and watch together...not just in February but whenever they choose. Because for Xfinity, Black History is Always On.
Happy watching! #BlackHistoryAlwaysOn #XfinityBHM
***Find all of this content in the ‘Black Film & TV’ destination on X1 on demand. Select the On Demand menu and scroll right or use your X1 Voice Remote to say ‘Black Film & TV’****
*Source: Nielsen Scarborough USA+ 2015 Release 2 (August 2014–October 2015).