It is Black History Month, a time to pause and appreciate the undeniable impact that black people have had on the history of the United States and the world. We acknowledge the struggle, yes, and all the things that black people have overcome, but we also celebrate the life, love and joy of black people. Isn’t it poetic, then, that Valentine’s Day occurs during Black History Month? It’s the perfect reason to highlight all the things we love about black culture and acknowledge how far we’ve come when it comes to seeing black love free from black trauma on screen.
Black love on television and in the movies has reached a magnificent pace of late. The last few years have seen a number of great movies like the recently released Malcolm and Marie, that left us in the middle of a dramatic battle between lovers. Moonlight showed us a coming-of-age story complete with a decades-long love story. The photograph gave us love through generations. Sylvie’s love It transported us in the mid-1900s to a love story that felt fresh and classic at the same time.
After liberation, The photograph I saw a lot of comparisons to the 1997 movie With love jones. Principal Stella Meghie said she was grateful and called With love jones “An iconic black romance movie” and saying “if you’re doing it right someone will probably bring it up.” He also explained to ET’s Nischelle Turner the effect that With love jones had in its growth. “It’s just one of those things that is inside you,” he said.
The couples in these movies join a long line of lovebirds in classic black movies and TV shows that have imprinted popular culture. So let’s take a closer look at the pop culture moments that demonstrate the lasting impact of these timeless black TV and movie couples.
With love jones
In 2006, Kanye West released a video for Touch the sky, which featured cameos from not just the hilarious Tracee Ellis Ross, but also the one and only Nia Long. Her appearance in the video was inspired by a key lyric: “I couldn’t keep it at home, I thought I needed a Nia Long.”
Back in the 90s, and even to this day, everyone thought they needed a Nia Long or needed to be Nia Long. The infatuation grew out of his many roles as a love interest for people like Will Smith (in The prince of Bel Air), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (in Kids in the neighborhood) and Larenz Tate (in With love jones). Her role as Nina in With love jones made her a mainstay of family casts in the romantic noir boom of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Starring Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson, poetic justice quickly became a favorite. The film had an immediate effect on fashion and also includes a fantastic early performance by Regina King and poetry by the legendary Maya Angelou.
Jackson has accredited her work with Shakur on the movie for helping her come out of her shell. The film was released in 1993, the same year as their strong and sexy self-titled album and four years before the adventure. The velvet rope.
With Jackson and Shakur leading the cast, the movie almost feels like a hip-hop and R&B collaboration. So it’s no wonder the movie influenced rap music. Kendrick Lamar released “Poetic Justice” with Drake and a mocking hook from Janet Jackson in 2016.
Big Sean and Jhene Aiko face off against the characters of Shakur and Jackson in the 2020 music video for the song “Body Language.” The video also recreates scenes from With love jones, The best man Y Waiting to exhale. “A great tribute to some of my favorite movies growing up,” the rapper wrote on Instagram about the movies he referenced in his music video.
Waiting to exhale
Waiting to exhale has a stellar cast (Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon, Gregory Hines …) and an equally incredible soundtrack (Whitney Houston, Babyface, Toni Braxton …). And while there are many memorable scenes, the moment Angela Bassett’s Bernadine reaches her limit and sets her cheating husband’s car on fire has been reinvented in TV shows, music videos, and the gif that says a thousand words, even when you just have 280 characters.
The movie celebrated its 25th anniversary in December of last year, and Bassett talked about how important it still is. “I say it still holds up,” Bassett told ET’s Kevin Frazier about the film, which still has a devoted fan base even a quarter of a century after its release in 1995. “Up to that point we hadn’t seen movies that counted. the lives of older black women. [And] It was the first of a movie that featured women for women, so it was really, you know, a pioneer. ”
The best man
Love Jones’ Nia Long also stars in the 1999 film The best man, along with other members of the Black Love boom group: Taye Diggs (How Stella got her groove back, brown sugar), Morris Chestnut (The inkwell, two can play that game), Sanaa Lathan (Love and basketball, brown sugar) and Terrence Howard (Yes, Ashanti’s “Foolish” video counts here).
The best manThe ensemble’s cast, their romantic connections and friendships, and the blurred lines between them, became a model for many black rom-coms to come. And the movie’s wedding scene influenced many real life nuptials.
The beloved movie has a sequel Godfather vacation, in 2013. The Best Man: Final Chapters The limited series, directed at Peacock, has just been announced.
Movies are not the only source of inspiration when it comes to black couples having an effect on culture. And because our small screen has now become our big screen, it’s important to give these characters their due.
The prince of Bel Air
The impression The prince of Bel Air It has had on television and popular culture is evident. Similar to The Cosby Show Earlier, the show opened up what could be a black family on television and a new representation of black life …
… And black love. The bond between Uncle Phil (James Avery) and Aunt Viv (Janet Hubbard from 1990-1993 and Daphne Maxwell Reid from 1993-1996) was the cornerstone on which this classic family stood.
J. Cole described the kind of love he would like to have in his song, “No Role Modelz.” The rapper begins by pointing to Uncle Phil as “the only father who [I] she never knew, “and then says she wants” a real love, the love of dark-skinned Aunt Viv. “GoldLink opens Christina Aguilera’s song,” Like I Do, “with a verse that includes the line” Let’s start a family, I’m Uncle Phil, you’re my Aunt Viv. ”
the Fresh Prince of Bel Air The cast reconnected late last year and, during the reunion, they discussed their love for the late Avery. “I fell in love with him as soon as I met him,” Reid said of her on-screen husband. “He was so generous of heart and spirit and so smart and so open too, I mean, his life was a big hug.”
A different world
Where the Huxtables gave us the representation of an African American family, The Cosby Showit’s a spin-off, A different world, showed us the lives of young black female students in an HBCU setting. The lessons learned were not only in class, these characters also experienced, among other things, young love. Lisa Bonet (Denise Huxtable) was just one part of the cast for the show’s first season. In the end, this was fine, as the real stars of the show emerged: Jasmine Guy (Whitley Gilbert) and Kadeem Hardison (Dwayne Wayne). The Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne saga remains one of the best love stories on television, spanning six seasons.
The style of the late ’80s and’ 90s was directly influenced by this pair: Dwayne’s flip-flop shades and Whitley’s iconic skirt suits. The pair has been referenced in songs by J. Cole (“I know we’re arguing, but aren’t you going with me? / We split up, we reconciled like Dwayne Wayne and Whitley.”) and Nicki Minaj (“I was on the plane with Dwayne / You can call me Whitley, I’m going to Hillman / Listen, I’m the baddest in school, the baddest in the game / Excuse me, sweetie, but no one’s in my lane”).
Martin, starring Martin Lawrence (Martin) and Tisha Campbell (Gina), had an undeniable impact on modern culture. Set in Detroit, the stars and themes of the show were blatantly black. Stars like Biggie Smalls, OutKast, and Snoop Dogg starred as guests on the show, bringing more attention to the burgeoning hip-hop scene in the 1990s. And while we’re only talking about the first four seasons of Martin (Season 5 onwards is a more tumultuous conversation) there is no match for that iconic love and best friend played by Lawrence and Campbell. “The one thing I’m most proud of Martin it’s that it shows a black man loving and respecting his black woman, “said Lawrence. Environment magazine in 1997 of the relationship at the center of the show.
The phrases of the program still live in our vernacular (“Go girl!” And “Damn Gina!”, They are the most popular). References to the love bond in Martin they have appeared in music by artists like SZA (“Go Gina”), Polo G (“Martin & Gina”) and others. LeBron James occasionally posts Martin clips on his Instagram. Campbell is still called “Gina” when fans see her in public, but she doesn’t mind. “I understand it all the time, but I don’t care. I love. I love that people revere it so much that all the memes come from there and people love it and I appreciate it. We all do, “he told ET’s Kevin Frazier.
Campbell had more to share about the impact of Martin. “There were so many black shows at that time. The important thing was that there were two young African Americans who were in love, ”the actress continued. “Now, we had The Cosby Show representation. But really [never] He had two young people who were having fun, discovering themselves, discovering life. I think that is [why] there are so many songs about Martin and Gina. ”
For the latest content celebrating Black History Month, visit our Black month of history page, or read more on our Black stories section. And don’t miss our Black History Month special on ET Live.