My favorite Black Characters in Hollywood


Tatiana Joseph-Saunders, Culture Reporter

It is no secret that Black people, really all people of color, have severely been underrepresented in Hollywood. Even now, in 2021, there are still constant conversations about how the little representation we have is still lacking and needs improvement. 

In light of this, I wanted to list a few of my favorite Black characters (old and new) that I think stole every scene, who I think deserved more screen time OR were essentially devalued because of their white-counterparts. 


Jolene from “The Queen’s Gambit”

This was a character I was instantly interested in, especially given the fact that there were no other Black characters in the show. I really enjoyed “The Queen’s Gambit”, but I know I would have enjoyed it more if Jolene was giving more purpose than being absent for the majority of the series until Beth needs financial help, and then essentially disappearing again. Jolene is the sole Black character in the series, and it does not go unnoticed. In the few scenes that place Jolene outside of the orphanage, audiences learn that she is trying to save up for law school and really wants to make a change in the world… Yet this is never addressed again. Jolene’s only purpose is to aid Beth, the white main character. It screams tokenism, and Jolene deserved better. 

Frozone from “The Incredibles”

This is a character I grew up loving and has made the series even more iconic in my opinion. I loved Frozone, he’s the funniest character by far, and the super-suit scene is something I still quote. Frozone had great one-liners and proved a worthwhile partner in crime to The Incredibles in the series. I would have loved a mainstream spin-off or just more content of him. I feel as though he is under appreciated, but I don’t think I can say he was necessarily jilted. He belongs on this list because I simply think he deserves more recognition.


Bonnie Bennett from “The Vampire Diaries”

Now, this is a character that I have been saying deserved a better cast, a better show, a better character for YEARS. Bonnie was always the only one fixing the problems and cleaning up the messes made by her white counterparts on the show. While she was thoroughly developed, given interesting backgrounds and love interests, unlike the aforementioned Jolene, this does not change her seemingly helper purpose. The issue I have is that Bonnie was always getting the short end of the stick. Whenever she was particularly happy or something was going right, she had to sacrifice it for her white characters in one way or another. I loved watching The Vampire Diaries but it seemed like Bonnie was always there to help other people but often faced her problems alone.


Raven from That’s So Raven

“That’s So Raven” contributed so much to my childhood. I loved how unapologetically black Raven was, the episodes focusing on stereotypes, friendship, racism, and fighting for what’s right and more. Raven’s character also always had great hair and fun hairstyles, which is unfortunately often uncommon for Black characters at the time. Raven was so bold and truly herself, and never tried to adjust for anyone. Raven’s fashionista personality as well as her comedic timing made the show easy to love.


Eric from Sex Education

I absolutely love Eric in this show, this is strictly appreciation and adoration including him in this article. Eric is such a refreshing character, when I first watched the show it had been so long since I’ve enjoyed a Black, queer character who was not constantly trying to shrink themselves. I love his traits, humor, care for his loved ones and storylines (even if they are frustrating to follow). It’s made clear that he is a person, a character independent of the white main character. 

Joe Gardener from Soul

Talk about a main character. Joe from “Soul” the dynamic, interesting, and beautiful representation Hollywood needs more of. I will say, there is a conversation to be had that Disney has a weird aversion to wanting their Black leads to remain in their bodies for the majority of the film, but I’ll save that for another time. Joe Gardener offers so much complexity and emotion to the film; whether it has to do with his dreams, his community, his mother, his legacy, etc. I loved this movie and hope everyone sees it, we need more Black voices at the forefront of all media, animation included.


One thing I think is important to note, is that it is so often for filmmakers to create Black characters who have the potential to be amazing… and only subject them to side characters, the best friend, the nanny, the sidekick, etc. This is a problem, and audiences need to hear more Black voices from leading positions. Some may say that society is seeing more and more representation, but not only do audiences deserve quantity, but quality too. Just having a Black person in the cast does not mean the show/movie is diverse, nor does it mean it is uplifting Black voices. There needs to be more Black producers, directors, actors, screenwriters, cinematophers, etc. This can only be done if the barriers in the world of creativity are broken down, if Black creatives are demanded by audiences more, and if non-Black decision makers use allyship to fight for those underrepresented. Hollywood needs to amplify Black voices, continuously.