Culture

To the average user, #BlackGirlMagic might seem like just another Twitter hashtag. But to me and many of the other magical women this term represents, it’s a movement expressing our solidarity with one another, a daily source of unapologetic self-love, and a way for us to affirm our worth in a society that often overlooks our, well, magic. Cashawn Johnson coined the term in 2013 first as #BlackGirlsAreMagic, telling Blavity, “It was important to me that black women and girls got the message that they are magic, they are important, they are successful, they are beautiful and that all the good things in the world that we want, we deserve and should have.”

At Beautycon NYC 2019, #BlackGirlMagic was sprinkled all throughout the Jacob Javitz Center, creating a path that led to the main stage where Regina Hall, Issa Rae, and Marsai Martin participated in a panel aptly titled “Black Girl Magic on the Big Screen.” The movie the trio star in together—Little—is #BlackGirlMagic in every sense of the word. Its executive producer (Martin) holds the title of youngest executive producer of a major film, the film was written (Tracy Oliver, Girls Trip) and directed (Tina Gordon, Drumline) by black women, and it stars three generations black actresses.

Moderated by Kahlana Barfield Brown, the stars of Little dished on their interpretation of the phrase, navigating the entertainment business as black women, and dismantling the stereotypes black women face. Ahead, six takeaways from the “Black Girl Magic on the Big Screen panel.”

On why uplifting each other is essential to a long career:

“It’s important that we don’t perpetuate the images that we don’t support women that we don’t uplift one another. I think that’s been the narrative in the black community for so long of this crabs-in-a-barrel mentality and the reason why we have this content shift today is because we’re opening doors for each other, holding the door open, really.”—Issa Rae

On moving past rejection:

“You’re going to get a lot more no’s than yes’s, but you keep pushing forward if it’s something you want to do. You can change the game and keep on breaking boundaries.”—Marsai Martin

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Dave Kotinsky


On the “angry black woman” trope:

“I think there’s a stereotype, a myth that black women are angry and I think it’s important that we don’t mute what we know in order to make people feel like we’re not angry. There’s a way we can speak to one another and get our point across without demeaning another human being but black women always feel a pressure to not be perceived as that stereotype that we know exists in the world and we mute that assertiveness.”—Regina Hall

“There have been moments where I felt like I can’t express something the way I want to express it, that I have to sugarcoat it because I know the environment that I’m in will label me as the ‘angry black woman’ or the ‘difficult black woman’ and it’s frustrating at times to feel like you constantly have to work on how you’re going to present something to be able to work again in the future. I love working with strong black women, I love working with vocal black women, I love working with opinionated black women because it’s not coming from a place of disrespect or bullying, it’s coming from a place of I know what I want and I’m going to communicate that. There’s nothing more refreshing than that and there’s nothing more frustrating than knowing if a white man said that, or a man period, it’s seen as ‘Oh, this is genius. He’s just saying what he wants.’ That’s why I love to work with “us” because at the end of the day, we get it.”—Issa Rae

On how to embrace your black girl magic:

“I chant in the mirror. I sing “black girl magicccc” to myself, but seriously, it comes with the confidence, As Marsai mentioned earlier, her family and friends support her and I think that’s so central to a lot of my confidence and that confidence translates to the magic.”—Issa Rae

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Noam Galai

On trying to convince people of your worth:

“You want to be around like-minded individuals who want to create the change you want to create. So instead of you trying to convince people of your light individually, you find a group of people who believe in what you believe in and together you guys can go out with your platform and be the example that makes people say, ‘Wow, I never thought about that. I want to do that.’ then, you become that beacon of light and hope for people who may not have seen the same things you see. It’s okay to be a pioneer.”—Regina Hall

“People will find you. You can be the voice of the people who are looking for you, who are looking to hear what you have to bring to the table instead of worrying about where you’ll fit in. Think about who’s listening to you, who cares about what you have to say, and use that to leverage something in the future.”—Issa Rae

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