Tech & Media
8 TV shows and movies that feature a lead who isn’t white
By Julia Lipscombe
Photos by Dreamworks and NBC Productions
Dec 22, 2017
At our house, finding TV shows and movies that represent people of colour is top of mind.
It’s especially important to us because our kids have a black dad and a white mom, and members of our extended family are black, South Asian and Indigenous. We want them to see their worlds on their multiple screens.
In general, we’re doing pretty good. My kids’ entertainment often reflects all of the cultures we find here in Edmonton and across the country.
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But there is one area in which we’re seriously lacking: holiday flicks. Before and after the holidays, Blackish and Moana fill their world, but come December, our options for dynamic, diverse programming — holiday cheer, included — dwindle drastically.
And all those low budget, made-for-TV/Netflix shows? I watch them, and so do my kids. But I want to stop clicking them, because they’re the absolute worst. Film after film, it's hard not to notice that the couples and lead families are virtually all white. Which, in 2017, is definitely discouraging.
That's why our family has looked far and wide to find a selection of holiday films that works for us, but we know the holidays aren't celebrated by all. So here are eight things you can watch with your family that feature a non-white lead. Some are themed for December, but many just highlight a time when Hollywood broke with tradition. Pop some popcorn and enjoy!
1. Home For the Holidays (2017)
This is a holiday spin-off of 2015's Home, the family-friendly animated film about Tip, a young girl (voiced by Rihanna) trying to find her mother after an alien invasion. In order to do so, she reluctanctly accepts the assistance of a funny alien named Boov (voiced by Jim Parsons). In this festive update, expect a diverse group of voice actors and some fun Hanukkah action! Not Rated.
2. The Wiz (1978)
Not explicitly a holiday flick, but the Wiz is a classic. This '70s take on the Wizard of Oz kicks off in Harlem, featuring an all-legend cast including Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor. Not Rated.
3. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Christmas Show (Season 2, 1991)
Thanks to Netflix, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has been revived for kids who didn’t grow up with Will, Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil. The show had a few holiday specials over its six season arc, but the most memorable is the Christmas sweater-filled ski trip to Utah, where burglars pay the kids a visit and Will deals with his mom’s new relationship. Rated PG.
4. Whale Rider (2003)
Since your kids have all probably seen Moana by now, why not let them watch the gorgeous, feminist, Maori film that partly inspired it? Whale Rider is the story of a young woman named Pai, who wants to be the leader of her community, despite the title’s patrilineal history. Rated PG.
5. Bend It Like Beckham (2003)
While her sister plans a massive Indian wedding, Jess just wants to play on her football (soccer) team — something she has to keep secret from her strict, traditional parents. Cultures collide in this light-hearted, humourous drama-comedy. Rated PG.
6. Annie (2014)
This 2014 remake of Broadway classic Annie was produced by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jay-Z. It also stars Oscar winner Jamie Foxx as Daddy Warbucks and Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis as the titular Annie. The old story of the orphan teaching a tycoon what life is really about remains the same. Rated G.
7. Last Holiday (2006)
After she finds out she has a terminal illness, the reserved and cautious Georgia Byrd (played by Queen Latifah) blows her savings on the trip of a lifetime. It's perfectly earnest without being overly saccharine. Rated PG.
8. Christmas in the Clouds (2001)
In this holiday romp co-starring Canadian Graham Greene, a case of mistaken identity leads to romance on a ski resort owned by a Native American nation. Rated PG.
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