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Reel Reinventions: 6 Films That Spotlight Black Female Transformation

Hey, we’re all going through changes. Why not harness these turning points to reimagine our best lives? Screen these movies for inspiration and #BlackGirlJoy.

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Everett Collection
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Watching strong sisters on screen shift and shine in the face of relationship, career and family issues is inspiring, and these reel reinventions reaffirm that there’s no obstacle that we as Black women can’t overcome.

From Sanaa Lathan’s dramatic “big chop” in Nappily Ever After to Angela Bassett’s passionate fling with a younger man in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, this roundup features six films that celebrate Black female characters that transform in front of our eyes. Watching strong sisters on screen shift and shine in the face of relationship, career and family issues is inspiring, and these reel reinventions reaffirm that there’s no obstacle that we as Black women can’t overcome. Phenomenal women, that’s us.

1.  Miss Juneteenth (2020)

Vertical Entertainment

This new indie film streaming online tells the story of single mother and former beauty queen Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie), who is grooming her headstrong teenage daughter (Alexis Chikaeze) to bring home the Miss Juneteenth pageant crown. The prize? A college scholarship and the chance to fulfill the dreams and aspirations Turquoise wasn’t able to. Rent on Amazon Prime or YouTube, $3.99.

2. Nappily Ever After (2018)


Sanaa Lathan exudes a sexy confidence and this time she struts her stuff as Violet, a driven ad executive and perfectionist who, at the behest of her prim and proper mom (Lynn Whitfield), keeps every strand of her straightened tresses in place. That is, until she spirals out of control after a breakup and shaves her head. Violet’s extreme hair makeover, however, is liberating and leads to transformation in every aspect of her life. Streaming on Netflix.

3.  Pariah (2011)

Everett Collection

This poetic coming-of-age story directed by Dee Rees (Bessie, Mudbound) centers around Alike, a Brooklyn teenager (Adepero Oduye) exploring her sexual identity and the conflicts that arise when she comes out as queer. Sadly, Alike’s revelation causes a rift between the young woman and her devoutly religious mother (brilliantly portrayed by Kim Wayans), but living in her truth ultimately sets her free. Rent on Amazon Prime, $3.99.

4. Becoming (2020)

Becoming_MO - Signing Books 01_R_1800

This Netflix documentary follows former First Lady Michelle Obama during the book tour for her acclaimed memoir, Becoming. The result is a glimpse into Mrs. Obama’s private life,  from her humble beginnings growing up on the South Side of Chicago, to meeting her future husband Barack while working at a Chicago law firm, to her historic time in the White House. Other women of color, both young and old, also share revelations of how the forever FLOTUS has inspired them.  Streaming on Netflix.

5. Middle of Nowhere (2012)

Everett Collection

Directed by Ava DuVernay, this romantic drama drips with sepia-toned sensuality. The lovely Emayatzy Corinealdi stars as Ruby, a devoted wife who puts her dreams of medical school on hold to hold down her husband (Omari Hardwick), who is serving an eight-year prison sentence. The film takes us on an emotional journey with Ruby as she redefines herself in her husband’s absence and meets an attentive new man (David Oyelowo), who could become part of her happier future. Rent on Amazon Prime, $3.99.

6. How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

Everett Collection

Like an old friend, now is a great time to catch up with this film favorite based on the bestselling Terry McMillan novel of the same name. Stella (Angela Bassett in all of her toned-physique glory) is a 40-something stockbroker and single mom who, well, needs to get her groove back. So she goes on a girlfriend getaway to Jamaica with her BFF Delilah (a witty Whoopi Goldberg) and makes an unexpected lust-turned-to-love connection with Winston (our swoon-worthy introduction to Taye Diggs), a sexy 20-year-old local man. Watch on HBO (free seven-day trial available) or rent on Amazon for $3.99.