The first movie that I remember being genuinely excited about was “Ice Princess.”
I was 8 years old at the time of its release in 2005 and having three years of prior learn-to-skate experience, I was 99 percent sure that I was going to become an Olympic figure skater, star skater for Disney on Ice or some other version of an “ice princess” in the future.
I know it seems ridiculous that I can recall how I felt walking out of a movie theater when I was only 8 years old, but I remember it because it was important to me.
This was the first time I had seen a movie with a whole plot dedicated to something that I loved, and I felt a part of the story, represented in some sort of small way.
Somewhere along the way, the act of going to the movies sort of lost its magic, but every now and again I’ll walk out of a certain film feeling that proud sense of inclusion.
When I think about how these films make me feel, or how special I felt as a young girl seeing someone who looked like me up on a big screen, my heart breaks for the young kids and other groups of people who have never felt that feeling before.
It’s no secret that there has been a lack of representation in Hollywood for people of color, people of different ethnicities and people of different sexualities.
I think that Hollywood is slowly changing, giving bigger budgets and more attention to films that aim to represent certain populations or that include people in minority groups, but it still isn’t enough.
It’s important to point out that the problem is not in the lack of talented screenwriters, actors and directors who want to portray stories involving underrepresented groups.
These stories have always existed and talented groups of individuals have been striving to get them to the big screen for decades.
The problem is with the greedy and ugly side of Hollywood that holds onto this unwarranted fear that there is no market for these types of films.
The hype surrounding some upcoming movies set to release in 2018 is evidence enough that the world is desperate for fair film representation.
“Black Panther,” which is set to release Feb. 16, has already shattered numerous advance ticket records, selling more pre-sale tickets than any other previous superhero films, according to Fandango.
The film will be the first Marvel superhero movie directed by an African-American (Ryan Coogler), and the one to have a predominantly African-American cast.
To put it plainly, this film is a big deal – not just because the previews look amazing, or because it’s already shattering records, but because of the impact this film will have in terms of representation.
I came across a video on Twitter that showed a group of young African-American students celebrating when hearing the news that they were going to see “Black Panther” in theaters.
The kids were chanting, cheering and dancing on chairs during a celebratory moment that for me was bittersweet to watch.
The simple joy that the kids felt at the thought of seeing this movie was so pure.
It is a form of pure happiness that is actually sad in its core because of the circumstances that must be in play for this simple bit of news to be so celebratory.
For the first time in their lives, these kids might leave the theater feeling represented, special and like they’re a part of something bigger.
It’s my hope that in the future Hollywood won’t have to strive to be so inclusive, so that this feeling will be normally universal for all.