Manic Pixie Dream Black Girls from a Millennial Black Girl
In much of my
scholarship, film and media critique have been a major part of it. Some years
ago, I came across film critic, Nathan Rabin’s review of Elizabethtown in which he describes Kirsten Dunst’s character as, “that
bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered
imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young
men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures,” or in other words,
a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” Of course, such a character has been reserved for
white women from Katharine Hepburn in Bringing
Up Baby (1938) to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast
at Tiffany’s (1938) to Zooey Deschanel in Yes Man (2008) to Zooey Deschanel in 500 Day of Summer (2009).
Basically, black women do not make such as list because we are not carefree, sweet, cute, silly, fun, and quirky. Nope. We're angry and mad, and emasculating and loud and take ourselves way too seriously. Well that is bullshit. Character traits are not assigned to a specific ethnicity. There are many black girls and women who live and exist outside of the defined expectations of black womanhood. Who are quirky as hell. Awkward as fuck. Issa Rae had a dope ass series about the life of an awkward black girl. Those who were natural before it became a movement and an anthem (ode to Solange- Don't Touch My Hair). Those whose flows and vibes move us more than anyone else. And there are those who simply have no fucks to give and will side eye and shade the hell out of anyone and everyone. Those who we wish we were more like. Those who we feel may be our kindred spirit. Sure, on screen characters like these women exist, however, let's deal with the real.
1. Zazie Beetz: Mostly known for her role as Van in Atlanta, Zazie is a natural haired beauty whose intrigued is strong enough to root for her and look forward to future projects and season 2 of Atlanta.
2. Kehlani: This Oakland born singer and dancer is who I automatically think of as the fun, silly, quirky girl. From her dope ass lyrics, amazing dance moves, to her silly yet shy personality, Kehlani is a breath of fresh air. Her debut album, Sweet Sexy Savage is an eargasm from beginning to end.
3. Zoë Kravitz
Zoë is the perfect mix of her mother and father. This singer and actress epitomizes the carefree girl many aspire to be.
4. Teyana Taylor: Many were introduced to this Harlem beauty in season 4 of MTV's Super Sweet Sixteen in 2007. Since then, she has captivated many with her mixtapes, features, and debut album, and her roles in Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming and Madea's Big Happy Family (Byronnnnnnnnnnnn). If her acting chops don't sway you, her live performances certainly will. Find her tribute to Lil' Kim at last year's VH1 Hip Hop Honors. She slayed.
5. Issa Rae: The woman who made a copious amount of black women scream hallelujah and YESSSS and FINALLY, with her Awkward Black Girl and Insecure shows, Issa Rae is someone who I am hoping makes a big splash in television land not just in front of the camera, but behind it as well. We know that when it comes to telling our stories, it is just as important that the stories being written are by black writers and the black actors are being guided by black directed.
6. Esperanza Spalding: Musical prodigy, Esperanza Spalding is a self-taught musician and vocalist who became the first jazz artist to win a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2011. From her eclectic musical styles to her fashion, and personality, Esperanza definitely fits the bill.
7. Algebra Blessett: From the time I saw the video and heard U Do it For Me on VH1 Soul some years ago, Algebra Blessett has captured my attention. Her voice and melodies are as smooth as your favorite whiskey. Her song Another Heartache speaks to many fellow black girls experiences with love.
8. Cree Summer: From Freddie Brooks on A Different World to being the voice of every black animated character on television, Cree is arguably the voice of my generation. How many went to HBCU's and/or became lawyers because of her. Also, she is an incredible musician, her Street Faërie is one of my favorite albums ever and makes my bohemian soul vibe, rock, and mellow out.
9. Corinne Bailey Rae: This beautiful British songbird's subtle charm and carefree style has wiggled herself into our hearts from the opening chords of Put Your Records On in 2007.
10. Solange: I
have always been drawn to Solange. Whether for her hair styles, fashions,
music, or no fucks given attitude, she is an authentic person who has remained
consistent in the way she carries and presents herself. Just reinforced why we
love her and for those who are just now coming around, this album gave them a
reason to pull up a chair, and pay attention to her.