We’re right in the midst of awards season, and this year is a very exciting one for black women and black men working in front of the camera and behind the scenes in Hollywood.
Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Ava DuVernay are among the more familiar names being recognized for their talents, but as I pointed out last week, there are lesser-knowns whose contributions are equally vital.
That is why XFINITY is honoring many of the female faces behind the magic as part of our Black History Month celebration. We will feature interviews throughout February with black women whose own form of #BlackGirlMagic help add more sparkle to your favorite films, TV shows and online content.
Take a look at some of these dynamic women below and share their stories via social media using the hashtags #BlackHistoryAlwaysOn and #XFINITYBHM.
Showing the depth of the black American experience has been a primary focus throughout Susan Fales-Hill’s career as a TV writer and producer. One of the best ways Fales-Hill has done that is through her work on “The Cosby Show” and its spin-off “A Different World.”
"Through history, one of the ways that [black people have] been dehumanized is that we've been stripped of any story," Fales-Hill said. "The minute you take away someone's story, you take away their humanity."
Watch her interview below to find out how those groundbreaking NBC comedies have contributed to other films and TV shows depicting the black American experience.
WATCH: Susan Fales-Hill’s Interview
Araxi Lindsey may be a talented hair stylist, but it was Jada Pinkett-Smith who helped her showcase her skills on many popular film and TV shows. Lindsey, who is the head hairstylist on ABC’s “Black-ish” says the Hollywood A-lister taught her the ropes and enabled her to help portray black Americans’ stories in a positive light.
“My small part in this huge production does tell a natural story of how we operate in everyday life,” said Lindsey, who also worked as a hairstylist on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” BET’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood” and the last two “Matrix” films.
Watch Lindsey’s interview below to see how her contributions expand beyond keeping starlets glammed up.
WATCH: Araxi Lindsey’s Interview
Cinematographer Kira Kelly believes one of the best parts of Black History Month is calling awareness to the various experiences of black Americans. “13th,” Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary about mass incarceration, does exactly this and is one of the reasons why Kelly signed on as a director of photography when DuVernay asked.
When it comes to being successful in Hollywood, Kelly, who also serves as the director of photography on OWN’s “Queen Sugar,” offers these words of advice for black Americans: “There’s a level of confidence that I think we have to have. We have to really be able to believe in ourselves, that we’re here for a reason, we have talent, we have a story to tell.”
Learn more about Kelly’s experiences behind the scenes when you watch her interview below.
WATCH: Kira Kelly’s Interview
Working on OWN’s “Queen Sugar” and NBC’s “This Is Us” has afforded TV writer Kay Oyegun with some of the best experiences of her career. These opportunities also have allowed her to comfortably be “unapologetically black.”
“Whenever conversations go into spaces that deal with class issues and race issues and micro-aggression and what’s happening politically, I’m able to engage in a very specific perspective,” Oyegun explained.
Find out more about Oyegun’s TV writing experiences and the advice she has for those hoping to break into the business when you watch her interview below.
WATCH: Kay Oyegun’s Interview