6 Black Screenwriters Who Changed the Entertainment Industry

January 5 is National Screenwriters Day. This holiday celebrates the unsung dynamos who work diligently to bring us the bodies of work we so cherish.

A quick Google search will highlight the vast supply of distinguished black screenwriters who have made an impact on the film and entertainment industry. While there are a growing number of rising black screenwriters charting their own paths, they stand on the shoulders of innovators who have charted the territory they can walk on. They highlight underrepresented stories in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and unique to watch.

Below are eight talented screenwriters who positively reformed and reshaped Hollywood.

Jordan Pele

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Jordan Peele invoked an alternative approach to seeing black people in thriller films. Direction, production and writing We, Nope, candy man and Wendell and Wildeit has cultivated a representative and electric film canon to behold.

Shonda Rhimes

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For quite some time, Shonda Rhimes has done it all. From dominating the ABC Network with various shows to bringing his talents to Netflix with the Bridgerton franchise, Rhimes strives to move away from stereotypical portrayals of people while empowering viewers through engaging, layered storytelling.

Robert Townsend

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Robert Townsend is a multifaceted writer who personified the term “creative” before his time. He wrote, produced and directed the film Hollywood mix which catapulted him to become one of the most respected black figures in entertainment. His work showcases black people from all walks of life and has become a staple within our community.

Issa Rae

Issa Rae.  Photo by Jabari Jacobs.
Issa Rae. Photo by Jabari Jacobs.

Issa Rae contributed her visit to the set of Moesha in 1996 as the beginning of her passion for writing and the model for the work she did in her career. Since that time, she has reached great heights and developed scripts that have delivered some of our favorite characters to us.

Gina Prince Bythewood

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Of Love & Basketball to The female king, Gina Prince-Bythewood knows how to bring beautiful drama to the screen. She centers the experiences of different black women, which makes her work inherently special.

Keenan Ivory Wayans

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Reviving the comedy dynasty that is the Wayans family, Keenan Ivory Wayans has written for some of the most defining films and television shows in Black Hollywood history. In living color, I will make you suck and white chicks are just some of the legendary projects to which he lent his pen.

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