by Courtney GravesTo me an icon is someone who makes an impact on the world and leaves some type of mark. Although this isn’t the sole definition of icon, it is a major component of the role. Diana Ross and Rihanna are both two powerful black female artists who I consider icons because they in one way or another left impacts in their careers. Diana Ross was an icon that did it all: sing, act, and model, while Rihanna recently created a beauty line that were universal to all skin colors. In an article by Nicole Fleetwood, Ross herself claims that an icon is when someone establishes a certain kind of legacy (55).
Although he is not female, Donald Glover is conquering the television circuit and becoming a legacy in his own right. Glover began as an actor turned rapper and then started directing his own show: Atlanta. Recently he has been in the spotlight for winning two Emmy’s and became the first Black person to win for directing a comedy. Although his win is not necessarily controversial, the fact that this is the first time a person of color has won for this category is crazy to me. It is the 69 th Annual Emmy Awards and there are still people of color who have yet to win an award in some categories. The issue is not necessarily with the award show itself, but with the nominations and the shows being created. In order to have more diversity in nominations there has to be more opportunities for people of color to write, direct, and produce art that they create.
Shows like Insecure, Atlanta, and The Carmichael Show are just now coming into the scene discussing problems that people of color closely relate to. It is not necessarily that they are discussing “black people problems” but topics are being discussed that mostly black or people of color discuss within their households. This is crucial for us to normalize topics like these in order to have the discussion not only in black households, but everywhere. If these conversations start with solutions instead of with the problem, our world would be a much safer place and changes would be made.
Instead of seeing a white person on the screen, children of color need to see role models that look like themselves also on screen to inspire them. In Glover’s show he is doing exactly this. The cast and writing crew is mostly black which is inspiring since that is not commonly found in this industry. If the kids watching these shows are able to see people like themselves on TV, they will be inspired to create content for the next generation, and the next, and so on. If this formula begins now, we will solve the diversity problem that is plaguing the industry now. Since there are no people of color interested in creating content for the Emmy’s or Oscar’s, there are no films and television shows being nominated.
Overall, Donald Glover is among a small group of people in Hollywood to be setting the tone for the upcoming years. I look forward to seeing what Glover creates and all that he inspires younger people to make. His impact as an icon not only is in the history books forever because of his recent Emmy win, but because of his contribution to the black television.
*originally written for cine 541*