The Black Panther effect is changing the face of Hollywood

Rune Fisker

If you thought the groundbreaking success of the film Black Panther was a one-off phenomenon, then hold tight. In 2020, a transformational African narrative will take over the world.

For decades, Africa has either been under-represented or represented negatively in western media. Popular stereotypes turned the continent into a one-sided story of famine, corruption, western aid, disease and hopelessness. A younger generation of African storytellers will change this narrative, reaching audiences around the world.

Africa is often referred to as the youngest continent, as 60 per cent of its population is under the age of 25. It is this young generation that will be presenting a contemporary Africa to the world. Dynamic and vibrant, the continent is filled with talented filmmakers, musicians, artists, fashion designers and content creators spreading a new found Africanism and re-shaping Africa’s story.

Thanks to Black Panther, Hollywood is now eager to tell Afrocentric stories, and streaming platforms are desperate for content that wins new audiences. The film proved that African narratives could be celebrated, have blockbuster appeal, and generate profits from a global audience. The film generated $1 billion (£0.8 billion) at the box office mark in just 26 days. It also became the first superhero movie to ever be nominated for best picture at the Oscars.

Since then, we’ve seen the first black Spider-Man making waves, Black Lightning on Netflix on its third season, and Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay, the first African-American woman to direct a movie with a budget of $100 million or more. In this post-Black Panther world, African content creators have never been more aware of the power of the voices they possess.

Netflix has also been exploring African content, eager to provide African storytellers with its big audience, in addition to increasing its African user base with a locally relevant selection. The streaming platform has commissioned original shows and films from Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe with its first two series being from South Africa: a spy thriller called Queen Sono, and high-school drama Blood & Water.

Africa’s identity will no longer be created and controlled by others. The secret to telling a powerful story begins with unapologetically embracing who we are as human beings. That’s when a story finds relatability and travels far, that’s when it moves us no matter where we’re from. In 2020, content created by and for African storytellers will become popular around the world.

Lucrezia Bisignani is a social entrepreneur and founder of the charity Kukua

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