This critical study interrogates the intersection of race and gender media representations on screen and behind the scenes. The thought-provoking investigation on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Queen Sugar series shows the ways in which the television drama is a significant contribution to mainstream media that creates in-depth conversations concerning African American women’s social roles, social class, and social change. Ollie L. Jefferson provides a unique analysis of the television production by using the exemplary representations conceptual framework to contextualize and theorize research contributing to systemic change. Jefferson highlights the best practices used by African American female executive producers, Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay, by examining Queen Sugar as a case study. The investigation shows how the decision-makers produced multidimensional female characters to illustrate the complex humanity of Black lives. This book broadens understanding of the media industry’s need for culturally sensitive and conscious inclusion of women and people of color behind the scenes—as media owners, creators, writers, directors, and producers—to put an end to the persistent and pervasive misrepresentations of African American women on screen. Scholars of television studies, film studies, media studies, race studies, and women’s studies will find this book particularly useful.
Ollie L. Jefferson is visiting assistant professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Introduction and Overview: Transforming the Storylines Above-the-Lines
Chapter 1: Mass Media Myths and Misrepresentations
Chapter 2: Television Typecasts
Chapter 3: Media Exclusion to Inclusion
Chapter 4: Multimedia Mogul Trending New Ground
Chapter 5: Changing the Channel: Mainstream Media Messages
Chapter 6: Inclusive Crew Commentary on Countering Narratives
Chapter 7: Complex Characters Countering Stereotypes
Chapter 8: Cultural Context in Community
Chapter 9: The Businesswoman On-Screen
Chapter 10: The Activist Woman On-Screen
Chapter 11: The Seasoned Woman On-Screen
Chapter 12: The Reformed Woman On-Screen
Chapter 13: The Sisterhood Series for Social Change
Conclusion: Exemplary Images, Inclusion & Impact
Definition of Key Terms
About the Author
Ollie L. Jefferson's book on Queen Sugar offers a refreshing examination of how one show creator, in this case Ava DuVernay, can make a significant difference in providing a more inclusive set of media images and representations of Black women. This powerfully illustrative and brilliantly descriptive book not only demonstrates the adroit skill and revealing candor of its author, but also the continuing struggle Black women endure in having their stories told on screen in a way that is honest, balanced, and quintessentially human. Bravo to Ollie L. Jefferson for blessing us all with this must-read volume.