One Sister Sister alum and Family Reunion star has embarked on a different sort of film and TV project, one that aims to share and amplify Black stories. Last week, Tia Mowry announced she's sharing movies with all-Black casts with her two children, an idea other parents can also easily take on themselves.
"This week through the weekend, I will be introducing my children to some amazing movies and television shows with an all black- cast," Mowry wrote Wednesday on Instagram. The actor shares two children, 8-year-old Cree and 2-year-old Cairo, with husband Cory Hardrict.
To kick off their foray into films and TV shows with all-Black casts, Mowry said she'd watched The Wiz with Cree. Made in 1978, the musical stars Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man, and Ted Ross as the Cowardly Lion, and is a reimagining of L. Frank Baum's children's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
In The Wiz, Dorothy is a shy, 24-year-old schoolteacher in Harlem who magically finds herself in the Land of Oz, a city that bears a strong resemblance to a fantasy version of New York City. After befriending the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy embarks on a journey to find the Wiz, a powerful individual who can help her get home.
While the film unfortunately isn't available to watch on Netflix or Hulu it can be streamed directly through Starz or on Hulu with a Starz add-on subscription. Other options for viewing include, renting The Wiz from Amazon Prime Video.
Later in the day, she revealed she'd followed up her screening of The Wiz by watching The Last Dragon in her Instagram stories. Released in 1985, the film is a martial arts comedy starring the martial artist Taimak and the Canadian singer Vanity.
There are, of course, also a number of other films that feature either all-Black or predominantly-Black casts, which you can watch with your own children in an effort to share and uplift Black stories and experiences. Here are a few to get started:
- Cinderella (1997) — Produced by Walt Disney Television, this version of the classic fairytale starred musical artist Brandy as a Cinderella and Whitney Houston (who also co-produced the film) as her Fairy Godmother. Whoopi Goldberg plays Queen Constantina and Natalie Desselle-Reid plays one of Cinderella's stepsisters.
- The Proud Family Movie — Younger children might enjoy The Proud Family Movie, a Disney Channel Original Movie based off the animated series, The Proud Family. It's available on Disney+.
- The Princess and the Frog — Currently available on Netflix, Disney's animated film The Princess and the Frog brings the story of Tiana, a hardworking waitress with big dreams of opening her own restaurant, to life.
- Raising Dion — Rated G and available on Netflix, this film tells the story of a widowed single mother who after discovering that her young son has superpowers, must find a way to keep him safe while raising him to use his powers responsibly.
- Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story — An animated short film narrated by Chris Rock and directed by Karyn Parsons, Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story tells the true and inspiring story of the first African American prima ballerina Janet Collins. Watch it here with a public library card.
- Akeelah and The Bee — Although Akeelah and The Bee does not feature an entirely all-Black cast, it centers the story of Akeelah Anderson, an 11-year-old participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. You can watch it on Hulu now.
- Queen of Katwe — For 10-year-old Phiona, life in Katwe, a slum in Kampala, Uganda, is hard. However, life changes for Phiona when she meets a missionary who teaches her how to play chess. Quickly the young girl becomes a top-ranked player, and her success opens a number of new doors for her and her family. The film is rated PG and available on Disney+.
- A Ballerina's Tale — Although a documentary rather than a movie, A Ballerina's Tale touches on issues of race and body image as it follows Misty Copeland, the first Black woman to be named principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater. Common Sense Media has recommended A Ballerina's Tale, available to rent on Amazon Prime, for audiences 9 and up.
- The Longshots — Based on the true story of Jasmine Plummer, the first girl to ever participate in the Pop Warner football tournament, The Longshots stars Keke Palmer as Jasmine and is available on Netflix.
- Are We There Yet? — Are We There Yet? tells the story of a single mom whose two children routinely sabotage her dates until she meets a bachelor with a general dislike for kids. To win the woman of his dreams, however, the bachelor agrees to take her kids on a road trip to their father's house, where after a number of hijinks and pranks, the three bond. Catch it on Hulu.
- Hidden Figures — Loosely based on Margot Lee Shetterly's non-fiction book of the same name, Hidden Figures tells the true story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, three Black women who worked at NASA during astronaut John Glenn's launch. Hidden Figures is available to stream on Hulu.
- The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind — While perhaps not suitable for very young children, Netflix's The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind tells the inspiring story of William Kamkwamba, a young boy who builds a windmill to save his village from a devastating drought.
- Harriet — Rated PG-13 and available to rent on Amazon Prime, Harriet focuses on the true story behind Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and path toward becoming one of the most recognized and celebrated women in history.
Sharing Black stories isn't enough, of course. As consumers, we need to actively advocate for the film and television industries to make more space for Black leads, for all-Black casts, and for films detailing Black stories and experiences.