3 movies with predominantly black casts have dominated the box office for the last 5 weeks.

For a long time, Hollywood thought it knew the type of characters America wanted to see on screen: white and mostly male.

The cast of "Oceans Eleven." Photo via Raoul Luoar/Flickr.


As recently as last year, the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism compiled data on named or speaking characters in 2014's top 100 movies.

They found that only 27% were non-white. Only 30% were women.

But the 2014-2015 TV season has challenged those assumptions in in a big way.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

"Empire," "Scandal," and "How to Get Away with Murder" — three shows created and/or produced by people of color and featuring non-white leads, powerful, three-dimensional female characters, and diverse casts — were some of the biggest ratings hits of the year.

Still, TV is TV. The bigger question is:

Would that success translate to the movies?

The jury is still out, but there's some really encouraging evidence that it's starting to.

According to a recent New York Times report, three different movies have claimed the #1 Movie in America crown in the last five weeks — and each of them has featured a predominantly black cast.

Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images.

Here's Brooks Barnes, writing for the Times:

"'The Perfect Guy,' a 'Fatal Attraction'-style thriller starring Sanaa Lathan, took in an estimated $26.7 million, or about 50 percent more than analysts had predicted based on pre-release surveys that track audience interest. Screen Gems, a division of Sony Pictures, spent $12 million to make the movie, which received poor reviews. 'Straight Outta Compton' and 'War Room' have recently led the multiplex race."

The fact that these movies are kicking ass — and exceeding expectations — is great news.

Not only are they upending antiquated notions of what heroes and heroines look like, broadening the type of stories that get told, and expanding job prospects for actors of color, they're showing Hollywood:

Diversity = $

Money. Photo via iStock.

"The Perfect Guy" and "War Room" got ... pretty bad reviews, to be sure. And yet, Hollywood has already made approximately 8 bazillion terrible Spider-Man movies. But they keep getting made. Because they make money.

Let's face it. "The right thing to do" and "what's good for art" only get you so far in showbiz. But if more high-powered studio execs start believing that putting non-white, non-male faces on screen is the best way to jump-start renovations on their squash courts, then you better believe Viola Davis is going to get mighty busy mighty quick.

And a busy Viola Davis is great news for America.

It took a long time, but equality, justice, and cold-blooded capitalism are finally starting to align in Hollywood.

More money. Photo via iStock.

And if that's not the most American thing I've ever heard, than I don't know what is.

More
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular