What Happened to all the Black Female Leads?

Black Actresses May Not Be Making Strides in Hollywood After All

JILL MARIE JONES - WHERE DID ALL THE LEADS GORemember earlier this year when we were inundated on an almost daily basis with news of black actress after black actress being picked to lead or co-lead new shows this fall season? Well, now that promo for many of those shows have kicked off, I am starting to see a disturbing trend.

Back in May networks held their Upfront events where they attempt to convince advertisers to support their shows. It was then we got our first look at Quantico, a new police drama from ABC. The Hollywood Reporter, and many other sites, reported Aunjanue Ellis as having landed the Female Lead. However, one look at Quantico’s trailer shows that to be absolutely false.

While the show has a lead female, and she is of color, the color isn’t black and the lead is actually Indian actress Priyanka Chopra.

I then noticed a similar situation with the new Starz horror fest Ash vs Evil Dead.

Former Girlfriends actress Jill Marie Jones had previously been reported as the show’s co-lead/female lead. However, I noticed Jill was not a part of the show’s panel at last week’s San Diego Comic Con. Instead, the show was repped by Bruce Campbell (lead male) and former Xena: Warrior Princess actress Lucy Lawless.

So, what gives? Is Jill the co-lead/lead female or not?

Well, simply put, NO.

I visited the show’s official Facebook page and the stars are listed as Campbell and Lawless. Jones’ name and likeness are nowhere to be found.

Likewise, blink and you’ll miss her in the official trailer.

So, why the misinformation? How did usually reliable sources like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety mange to misidentify these two black actresses as leads in shows where at best they are simply supporting characters?

If I had to guess, I would say hype. After the success of shows like Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Empire, I think a lot of networks wanted to get in on the diversity trend, and were quick to scream that they too would soon have their own Cookie, Olivia and Annalise.

So, is this a big deal? Only time will tell, but I get the feeling as the fall season draws nearer, we will find that black actresses probably haven’t made the gains in Hollywood we’ve recently been led to believe.


  1. That’s Hollywood for you. The hype is also why I think both Meagan Good and Nicole Beharie were hired for their roles.

    Did you guys ever see Deception? Meagan was the star but treated like less than a co-star. It was deplorable. NBC definitely wanted that Scandal hype.

    Same for Nicole on Sleepy Hollow. They’ve been treating her like a sidekick for a season and a half now. Like most people I just quit watching.

    Meagan is back on tv with Minirity Report now. I guess we’ll see how that goes in a few months.

  2. I had a feeling this was going to happen when almost everyday I was getting a new email about a new black actress supposedly landing a lead role. I knew it was PR hype and that most would not pan out. These two aren’t the only ones either. Yaya DaCosta was also hyped as the female lead of Chicago Med, but then I saw that Laurie Holden (Andrea from The Walking Dead) was joining the cast as well and common sense told me DaCosta was not going to be above her in any way. For black actresses it doesn’t matter if you’re touted as the lead or co-lead, rarely will you actually be given the respect the title demands, especially if there is a white actress in the cast as well.

  3. The sad part is that the hiring of black actresses will eventually be seen as a trend and as many of these shows fail, as most shows do, sistas will find themselves having and even harder time finding work.

  4. TWO WORDS – REALITY TV!!! Darn shame women are now making six figures salaries, bad weave, bad makeup and porcelain veneers that look like chic-lets gum no college nothing!!! I miss Nia Long, Jada Pinkett, Lisa Nicole Carson, Jennifer Beals, Michael Michelle,,Conni Marie Brazelton, Pam Grier

  5. and many others that I did not name…Its so many. God forgive reality tv its a insult for any woman who spent years in college studying art and theater only to be told that if they don’t make a darn fool of themselves or stripped butt naked they cannot get the part

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