Jun 13 | By Lauren Chapman
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that representation matters. Our society continues to work towards a more just system where people of color can feel safe and welcomed in any and every scenario. This has bled over to the entertainment industry, with more films showing representation across all backgrounds, ethnicities, and people.
Our team at Go.Verizon.com took a closer look at some of the most searched films with a Black lead in every state, not only the 10 states in which Verizon internet service is available. With The Woman King, Nope, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we’re excited to see more Black representation in Hollywood.
- The Hate U Give – Amandla Stenberg started her career in the action thriller Colombiana. Most recently, she starred in The Hate U Give playing sixteen-year old Starr Carter. Stenberg’s career is full of accolades having received a nomination in 2013 for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture with her role in Hunger Games and being named one of the 30 Most Influential Teens in 2015 and 2016 by Time.
- Journal for Jordan — Michael B. Jordan is both an actor and producer. In his most recent role he plays the late 1st Sergeant Charles Monroe King in Journal for Jordan, but is best known for his roles in Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Black Panther. In 2020, he was named one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time and People’s Sexiest Man Alive.
- Nope – Released in July of 2022, Nope is about two siblings who run a California horse ranch and discover something sinister in the skies. The newly released film has already won the Most Anticipated Film by the Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards.
- Tenet – Released on September 3, 2020, Tenet was written and directed by Christopher Nolan. The protagonist in the film is actor, producer, and former professional football player John David Washington, who is the son of actor Denzel Washington and actress Pauletta Washington. Due to his outstanding performance, Washington received both Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.
- Soul – Actor, singer, and comedian Jamie Foxx stars as Joe, a New York jazz pianist that finds himself between earth and the afterlife. Foxx is a highly decorated actor who has won an Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
- The Batman – Released in March, 2022, The Batman features actress, singer, and model Zoe Kravitz as Selina. Kravitz is the daughter of singer-songwriter Lenny Kravits and actress Lisa Bonet. She has also starred in movies such as X-Men: First Class, the Divergent series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and many others.
- Black Panther — Kenyan-American actress Lupita Nyong’o stars as Nakia in this award winning, action packed film. Throughout her career Nyong’o has won an Academy Award, Daytime Emmy Award, four NAACP Image Awards, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Aside from her acting career, in 2019 she wrote a children’s book named Sulwe, which became a New York Times bestseller, and in 2020 she was named one of Africa’s 50 most powerful women by Forbes.
- West Side Story — American actress, dancer, and singer Ariana DeBose plays Anita in the remake of this highly acclaimed musical, and is no stranger to the world of theater. In 2011, she made her Broadway debut in Bring it On: The Musical and later landed a role in Hamilton. DeBose is an accomplished actress, having received both an Academy Award and Golden Globe award. She also participated in So You Think You Can Dance in 2009.
- Coming 2 America – Coming 2 America is the prequel to the film released in 1988 about an African prince that travels to Queens, New York, and goes undercover to find a wife that he can respect. The 2021 movie received 11 nominations and won 6 awards including Excellence in Contemporary Film by the Costume Designers Guild Awards, Best Contemporary Makeup, Best Special Makeup Effects, and Best Contemporary Hair Styling as Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards.
- Moonlight – Moonlight is the story of Chiron, a young Black man growing up in Miami. The movie was released on November 18, 2016 and has since received 296 nominations and 228 wins including 3 Oscars: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
- Waves – Actor Kelvin Harrison Jr. began his career with roles in Ender’s Game and 12 Years a Slave, but gained wider recognition for his work in Luce and Waves. This film was released on November 15, 2019 and traces the journey of an African American family led by a domineering father. In the movie, Kelvin Harrison Jr. stars as Tyler, a popular high school wrestler. Throughout his career, Harrison has won a Screen Actors Guild Award and has received nominations for a British Academy Film Award, Gotham Award, and Independent Spirit Award.
- King Richard – The biography of Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, King Richard shows his determination to write his daughters into history. Actor, rapper, and producer Will Smith stars in the film as Richard Williams. Over the span of his decades-long career, Smith has received many awards including an Academy Award, four Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
To find the most popular movies with a Black lead released in the past six years we looked at IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. To ensure our data was both current and relevant, we only considered films released between January, 2016 and today with user ratings between 7 to 10. We also considered each film’s rating count and only included movies with at least 10,000 ratings in the United States (Sorted by Popularity Ascending).
Once reviewing all the films that met our criteria, we sorted them by a weighted average of critical reviews from Metacritic. The Metacritic team reads the reviews and assigns each a 0–100 score, which is then given a weight, mainly based on the review’s quality and source. This list helped us to determine our top 15 films. To tie in our findings we used Google Trends to determine which states searched our final 15 films the most over the past 12 months.
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