Michael Blackmon

RuPaul Reversed Himself And Is Now Allowing A Trans “Drag Race” Contestant To Compete

RuPaul seems to be embracing transgender inclusivity for the upcoming fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, after coming under fire earlier this year for his comments against trans contestants.

On Friday, the crop of 10 new contestants who will be vying for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar were finally unveiled, including fan favorites like Monét X Change, Naomi Smalls, Valentina, and Gia Gunn.

Gunn appeared in the show’s sixth season, after which she came out as trans and began hormone replacement therapy.

Her inclusion signals a change for the popular drag show, after its creator, RuPaul, told the Guardian in March that he would “probably not” allow a transitioning transgender woman to compete.

“You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body,” RuPaul told the outlet. “It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing.”

In the same interview, RuPaul noted that Peppermint, a queen who appeared on Drag Race Season 9, did identify as a woman while competing in the show, but argued she hadn’t “really transitioned” because she didn’t have breast implants.

Reaction to his comments was strong, with several former contestants calling him out on what they said were anti-trans views. Others said his comments erased decades of trans drag history.

Gunn weighed in on the controversy in a YouTube video this March.

“Does this mean as a trans woman I will no longer be considered for future seasons of All Stars?” Gunn asked.

“I respect that this is RuPaul’s decision, but at the end of the day I don’t feel that my transness has anything to do with me as an artist,” Gunn said. “If you’re a fierce queen and you bring it to the runway you should be accepted as one and nothing more and nothing less.”

Amid mounting criticism, RuPaul issued a statement on Twitter about his comments.

“In the 10 years we’ve been casting Drag Race, the only thing we’ve ever screened for is charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. And that will never change,” he said.

On Instagram on Friday, Gunn celebrated her inclusion in the show, without mentioning her identity.

“4 years ago a door had opened for me unexpectedly, because of that I then was blessed to be able to discover my authentic truth without forgetting where I come from!” she wrote. “I am so excited and thankful to now be sharing this next chapter in my life not only in my true skin but also with ALL OF YOUNow, who’s ready for me to show these boys who the REAL queen is?!”

All Stars Season 4 is premiering Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. on VH1.

Representatives for RuPaul and VH1 did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ requests for comment.

Chloë Grace Moretz Said Louis C.K.'s “I Love You, Daddy” Film Should “Just Kind Of Go Away, Honestly”

C.K. was accused by five women of sexual misconduct, and two said that he’d masturbated in front of them.

Soon after the allegations came out, C.K.’s film — which was set to premiere the same week the allegations were published by the New York Times — was canceled “due to unexpected circumstances.”

“I don’t think it’s time for them to have a voice right now,” Moretz added. “Of course, it’s devastating to put time into a project and have it disappear. But at the same time, this movement is so powerful and so progressive that I’m just happy to be in communication with everyone and to see the big change in the face of the industry, which I think is very, very real.”

Issa Rae Had Some Choice Words For The #LawrenceHive's Undying Support Of Their Favorite “Insecure” Character

From the start, Rae was asked about the enthusiasm of the #LawrenceHive, a term conjured in support of Lawrence Walker (Jay Ellis), who played Issa Dee’s (Rae) boyfriend in the first two seasons of the show.

HBO, Jason Koerner / Getty Images

Long story short: Issa cheats on Lawrence, and their already rocky relationship is pretty much caput after that.

Over the course of Season 2, Lawrence and Issa are not the kindest people to each other and fans began to take sides.

And there’s a whole lot of men who sympathize with Lawrence, and they don’t shy away from making their opinions known on social media. Subsequently, the #LawrenceHive was born.

It was revealed over the summer that Lawrence wouldn’t be back for Season 3, mainly due to the fact that the audience doesn’t “know the character of Issa outside of Lawrence,” Rae said.

“This was just an opportunity to explore that and so, in a sense, rediscover who she is without this man in her life,” she said.

Some Oscar Winners Are Skeptical About The Academy’s Upcoming Changes To The Ceremony

Arts & Entertainment

“This moment plants the seed for the future filmmakers of the world,” one past Oscar winner said. “This moment gives all the future filmmakers a goal.”

Posted on August 9, 2018, at 7:36 p.m. ET

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Director Guillermo del Toro takes the microphone to accept Best Picture Oscar for The Shape of Water in 2018.

Plans to shorten the Academy Awards ceremony by handing out Oscars to certain categories during commercial breaks have been met with anger by some former winners who say the move devalues their cinematic contributions in favor of prioritizing celebrities.

“It meant a great deal to me that our Academy Award for the Best Live Action Short Film was presented live just like the more popular categories of the night,” said Kristóf Deák, who won in 2017 for his work on Sing. “It was electrifying to feel the anticipation in the room and to deliver a speech in front of millions of viewers.”

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Director Kristóf Deák at the microphone to accept his Oscar in 2017.

“I would be sad to see some colleagues losing that opportunity,” he added. “Those young filmmakers receiving them deserve the spotlight.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which puts on the ceremony, announced three new changes on Wednesday, including introducing a new category for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film and an earlier airdate to shorten the overall awards season.

But the decision to hand out some awards during commercial breaks is what has upset some past Oscar winners. While the Academy has yet to announce which categories may be kept out of the live televised spotlight, they will likely include short film categories and the technical and production nominees, who tend to be less famous.

Brandon Oldenburg, who won his Best Animated Short Film Oscar in 2012 for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, told BuzzFeed News he could easily see his category being pushed to the commercial break.

“Would be a shame because this little moment of the evening shows that you can do it! You watching at home, you can do this too,” he said. “Take that phone from your pocket and make a film, tell your story. Look at these goofy dudes on stage! They did it!”

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Animators William Joyce (left) and Brandon Oldenburg accept the Best Animated Short Film Award in 2012.

Oldenburg said he had personally been inspired watching people receive their Oscars over the years.

“For an aspiring filmmaker, it’s like seeing Gatorade splashed on your favorite athlete who dream their whole lives to win the Super Bowl,” he said. “This moment plants the seed for the future filmmakers of the world. This moment gives all the future filmmakers a goal.”

The Academy has tried to take shortcuts in the past.

When Chris Rock hosted the Academy Awards in 2005, a handful of categories were presented in the audience, including best makeup and best short films. A microphone was placed in the aisles for winners to make their acceptances speeches, cutting down on the time it would have taken for them to walk up onto the stage.

Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images

Oscar host Chris Rock and actor Adam Sandler present nominees during the 77th Academy Awards in 2005.

“Next year, we’re going to give out Oscars in the parking lot,” Rock joked during the ceremony. “It’ll be a drive-through: Give me an Oscar and a McFlurry.”

The broadcast still clocked in at 3 hours, 15 minutes.

Academy President John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson told members in their letter announcing the changes this week that they hadn’t yet determined which categories would be shifted to commercial time.

“I don’t know how they would judge which one, or which two or three, four craft awards that they would take out,” said Neil Corbould, a two-time winner for visual effects. “If they want to cut it and be fair to all the craft awards, then you take all the craft awards out and you just make it about the actors and directors and the producers.”

Unnamed people who work in the craft industries shared their anger at the change with the Hollywood Reporter. “We are definitely upset,” said one sound branch member.

Chris Pizzello / AP

Helen Mirren displays a jet ski as host Jimmy Kimmel looks on during the 2018 Oscars.

“I’m afraid this will end up being a little demeaning,” added another film editor. “It’s a big thing for those of us ‘below the line’ to get such an award. It makes a big difference in your life and career.”

Kim Magnusson, a two-time Live Action Short winner and chairman of the Danish Film Academy, told BuzzFeed News that he’s primarily concerned with the logistical issues that go with putting some award acceptances during the commercial break, pointing out that it’s the time when “everybody in the audience gets up and goes out and has a drink and go to the restroom and all that.”

He added that he understands the Academy’s long push to to make the show shorter and more entertaining, but any change that would affect the live show inside the theater would be in danger of being extremely disrespectful to affected nominees.

“Are you going to then have everyone in an auditorium sit for three straight hours?” he said.

Even if the commercial break awards go ahead, the Academy has promised that “the winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.” Still, some have wondered why producers wouldn’t focus on cutting film montages or song performances in order to trim the show’s runtime, rather than devaluing certain categories.

Chris Pizzello / AP

Keala Settle performs “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman at the 2018 Oscars.

There are some past winners, however, who don’t mind the changes coming in 2019.

Kevin O’Connell, who won the Oscar for Sound Mixing in 2017 for his work on Hacksaw Ridge, said he understands the Academy’s “need to head in this direction.”

“The show is just too long. It’s either this or take awards off the broadcast,” O’Connell said. “I believe this is a way to compromise and keep all of the awards presented on the show, just in a different way.”

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Kevin O’Connell speaks at the microphone after accepting Best Sound Mixing Oscar in 2017.

O’Connell isn’t upset that his own category will likely be presented during a commercial break.

Sometimes you have to do what’s best for the greater good,” he said. “If all of the affected categories rotate equally, it should be fair and equal for everyone.”

Ben Grossman, who won his golden statuette in 2012 for Best Visual Effects for the film Hugo, was also in favor of rotating which categories get handed out during the commercial breaks.

“If shifting my category to the break means that the ratings are higher and all the positive work the nonprofit Academy does for the community — like the museum, the library, film restoration, outreach and education programs — can continue to be funded by the advertising dollars? I’ll take it,” Grossman said.

He also had another suggestion for shortening the long-running ceremony: Put the show on a five-minute tape delay so that “anytime someone starts listing names or saying anything that isn’t representative of the power of that moment, it gets cut.”

“You’ve been given a microphone to the world; not a single damn person cares who your agent is but your agent,” he said, adding, “Save the spotlight for powerful insights that will inspire a generation of young filmmakers.”

CBS Is Making An American Version Of The Hit British Reality Show “Love Island”

Arts & Entertainment

Everyone in the UK has been talking about it, and now CBS has ordered the series to be adapted for an American audience.

Posted on August 8, 2018, at 1:24 p.m. ET

CBS has landed the US rights to the incredibly popular British reality show Love Island and is set to adapt the series for an American audience, the network announced Wednesday.

The show, which has just finished its third season and has been renewed for a fourth, has been a ratings hit in the UK.

Sharon Vuong, CBS’ head of alternative programming Sharon Vuong, said of the news, “Having seen the reaction of audiences ‘across the pond’ and around the world to this most recent season, we expect American viewers will be captivated by this engaging format.”

In the UK show, contestants, aka the Islanders, couple up with one another as they compete for love, friendship, or cash on a sunny Spanish island. Initially, Islanders team up with one another solely based on first impressions and as the series progresses, they must “re-couple,” but are given the option of staying in their current item or switching things up.

Surprise challenges ensue over the course of the season and the winning couple is decided by the public, who votes for the person they believe should win the grand prize of £50,000 ($65,000).

David George, CEO of ITV America, called the show “a cultural phenomenon that builds anticipation with every episode and creates appointment viewing — a pretty hard thing to do in today’s TV landscape.”

“We’re ecstatic the show has found a home at CBS and look forward to working collaboratively to engage its millions of viewers,” he said.

The first first three seasons of the Love Island are available for streaming on Hulu.

Lindsay Lohan Made Some Controversial Comments About #MeToo In A Recent Interview

Though she says she is “supportive of women” and acknowledged that “everyone goes through their own experiences in their own ways,” Lohan expressed dissent regarding the movement that has forced Hollywood and other industries to take sexual misconduct more seriously.

Lohan said that some women who come forward only do it for notoriety: “You have these girls who come out, who don’t even know who they are, who do it for the attention. That is taking away from the fact that it happened.”

She told the newspaper that she was adapting Tina Seskis’s The Honeymoon, which proved to be cathartic after a violent incident with her ex on a beach. “There was this moment where it was like, ‘I don’t really need to be worried about a guy hurting me, I don’t need to live in fear,'” she said.

“Because when women show fear, I feel like that makes us powerless,” she said.

Last October the actor also defended Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced Hollywood mogul accused of sexual assault by dozens of women.

“I feel very bad for Harvey Weinstein right now. I don’t think it’s right what’s going on,” Lohan said in an Instagram story. “I think Georgina needs to take a stand and be there for her husband.”

Dozens Of Hollywood Organizations Pledge To Prioritize Transgender Storytelling In The Industry

Arts & Entertainment

“It is time for transgender people to be included in this conversation,” members of organizations wrote in an open letter.

Posted on August 7, 2018, at 12:04 p.m. ET

Dozens of Hollywood organizations have cosigned a call to prioritize transgender storytelling in the filmmaking industry.

In a letter published Tuesday, GLAAD, Time’s Up’s 50/50 by 2020, and 45 other groups called on the entertainment industry to include trans voices in their work.

“We know that the best storytelling is diverse storytelling, and it’s clear that Hollywood is at a tipping point,” the groups wrote.

“Studios and production companies are bringing more people into the creative process, hearing their stories and creating better films and TV shows because of it. It is time for transgender people to be included in this conversation.”

The letter was a reflection of “trans people and our allies speaking up about the need to see our true, authentic experiences reflected in film and TV,” Nick Adams, GLAAD’s director of transgender media and representation, said in a press release.

The letter pointed to TRANSform Hollywood’s resource for tips on inclusion, such as casting trans roles authentically, engaging experienced and trained trans creators as a work develops, and making projects trans-inclusive even if they don’t specifically focus on trans people.

The call arrives at a time when trans actors are speaking up about the difficulties of securing roles in the entertainment industry. Recently, Scarlett Johansson stepped down from the film Rug & Tug after news of her casting as a trans man triggered a backlash online.

Trace Lysette, a trans woman most known for her work on Transparent, who criticized Johansson when the news initially broke, told Variety that she intended to point out the “double standard.”

“I’m not getting into rooms for cis roles,” Lysette said. “I started my career auditioning for those roles, and then I went to play trans roles. And now, I feel boxed in.”

Audiences are certainly eager for onscreen trans stories. Ryan Murphy’s Pose, which is set in the late ’80s at the height of the New York City ball scene, boasts the largest cast of trans series regulars on a network show and was recently renewed for a second season.

Read the complete letter below:

Dear Hollywood, We know that the best storytelling is diverse storytelling, and it’s clear that Hollywood is at a tipping point. Studios and production companies are bringing more people into the creative process, hearing their stories, and creating better films and TV shows because of it. It is time for transgender people to be included in this conversation.

First, some things you should know. As a community, trans people are fighting every day to be seen and accepted as human beings. The Administration in Washington D.C. is trying to erase trans people from our culture by banning us from serving in the military, allowing health insurance companies to deny us medical care, and refusing to protect trans youth in schools. In the past 18 months, at least 44 trans people have been murdered in the U.S., almost all of them trans women of color. The unemployment rate of trans people is 3 times the national average – and 4 times for trans people of color. Thirty percent of trans people live in poverty – twice the national average. When visiting the doctor, one in three trans people have been verbally harassed by the doctor or denied medical care. Transgender Americans face bullying in school, discrimination on the job, and violence on the street. Perhaps most alarmingly, because the culture is so transphobic, 40% of trans people report attempting suicide, compared to 4.6% of the general population.

That’s a lot of negative information, but we hope it helps explain why transgender people are pushing so hard to be heard. It’s because we are struggling to survive.

The world is unsafe for trans people – and we can do better.

In the US, 80% of people say they don’t know a trans person in their family, workplace, or school. That’s where Hollywood comes in. Hollywood tells the stories that help people understand how to feel about themselves and how to feel about people around them who are different. As Roger Ebert said, film is an empathy machine. We know projects like Ellen, Will & Grace, Brokeback Mountain, Milk, and Moonlight helped destroy stereotypes about gay and lesbian people, and the timeline for marriage equality would have been remarkably different without them. Recently, women and people of color have made it clear they want more authentic stories about their lives in films and on TV. Trans people feel the same way.

We are grateful that Hollywood is starting to embrace these myriad points of view. We also know that some people feel we are being overly sensitive about exactly how these trans stories are developed and told. As trans people, we have grown up watching stories told about us by people who haven’t done their homework when it comes to the trans community. We have been portrayed almost exclusively as tragic victims, psychotic killers, and one-dimensional stereotypes. We have been confused with drag queens, seen our history erased in historical films, and been ridiculed for gender expressions that don’t conform to social norms.

We believe that we are at an unprecedented cultural moment — a moment when we can ask Hollywood to use its power to improve the lives of trans people by changing America’s understanding about who trans people are. We want to help you tell our stories – and we need your help to do it.

This is about more than diversity and inclusion. It’s about empowering trans people and sharing with us the tools and access that have been offered to you throughout your career. It’s about offering people who are different from you the confidence and the sense of belonging that inspires the very best art.

We know Hollywood is a business, as well as a creative community. We are not asking you to stop making money. We are asking to be brought to the table, so that our knowledge, talent, and stories can help improve your work and increase its value.

Dave Bautista Defended James Gunn And Described Working For Disney As “Nauseating”

Arts & Entertainment

The actor and wrestler suggested that the company empowered “cyber nazis” in the aftermath of Gunn’s firing from the next installment of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Posted on August 6, 2018, at 11:48 a.m. ET

A letter, signed by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and a host of other Gunn supporters said, in part:

“We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support and gratitude for James,” the cast wrote.

“We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2.”

“You have to realize that when you are in that world as a comedian, a writer, whatever you’re always stretching the boundaries and trying to find something which lead him to something that the world loves, which is Guardians of the Galaxy,‘” Russell said.

“He has a wonderful heart and a wonderful mind. I hope he is forgiven.”

Rihanna, Shuri, Meg Murry: Black Girl Nerds Are Finally Seeing Themselves Onscreen

Arts & Entertainment

“I’ve always been the bookworm, but you kind of feel like you’re on an island by yourself a lot of the times, and now there’s so much visibility.”

Posted on August 4, 2018, at 11:37 a.m. ET

Marvel

Letitia Wright as Shuri in Black Panther.

Growing up, Alexis Hancock was obsessed with the astronaut Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space. She also loved Storm from X-Men, the black mutant superhero who can control the weather, and devoured the Black Panther comic books, featuring King T’Challa and his tech guru sister, Princess Shuri.

But with her head in space, Hancock also felt isolated and alone back in the real world. “I was never really ridiculed for my nerdy inclinations, just silently siloed in my own world,” she said. “I wasn’t really mainstream — what was popular, who was pretty. I was just sorta ignored, I guess.”

Now a 29-year-old web developer based in Oakland, California, Hancock wasn’t prepared for the rush of emotion she would feel seeing Shuri come to life on the big screen in this year’s live-action film. “To finally see that happen on the big screen — seeing this smart black woman being held up in her community and given the space and encouragement to do her thing,” said Hancock. “A lot of my friends texted me [after seeing the film] and said that, ‘When I saw Shuri, I thought of you.’ And I was like, Oh my god, I’m gonna cry.

In the months that followed the breakout performance of Letitia Wright as Shuri, audiences were introduced to even more smart, capable black women. There was Storm Reid as the inquisitive Meg Murry in A Wrinkle in Time; there was Rihanna as an effortlessly cool hacker in Ocean’s 8, which also featured a brief performance from Nathanya Alexander as RiRi’s younger but equally smart sister; and there was Lena Waithe as the tomboy gamer Aech/Helen in Ready Player One. Meanwhile, offscreen, black actor Noma Dumezweni wowed Broadway audiences — and snagged a Tony nomination — with her portrayal of the wizarding brainiac Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

2018 is the year of the black girl nerd.

While brilliant and brainy black women are seeing themselves reflected in entertainment in major new ways, some are also wondering if this trend will continue or if it’s just another fleeting, half-hearted attempt at inclusion in Hollywood.

Still, the current pop culture moment feels long overdue. “This was years in the making; this was world-building that I’ve never seen in Hollywood,” said Hancock. “Seeing black people in these roles I think for once [was a] fresh perspective.”

Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros.

Rihanna as Nine Ball in Ocean’s 8.

For more than a year, Jonita Davis has been the managing editor of Black Girl Nerds, a website where black women interested in all facets of nerdom can find community and discuss black culture and women’s issues. She too has sensed a cultural shift, equating the current moment to how the 1984 comedy Revenge of the Nerds brought geek culture into the mainstream for straight white men.

“If somebody cool like Rihanna is doing it, or if someone as kick-ass as [Wright] is doing it, it makes it to where it’s a lot easier for a girl to show up and start talking tech or about some of the apps she likes to make without getting a lot of backlash,” said Davis.

Having grown up during a time when black nerds were almost exclusively represented by the absurdist caricature of Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) on Family Matters, Davis particularly appreciated seeing Rihanna’s confident and chill genius on display in Ocean’s 8.

“She’s kind of normalizing being a black girl being nerdy and having it be alright,” said Davis.

“She’s kind of normalizing being a black girl being nerdy and having it be alright.”

It’s not surprising that for a long time the film industry was reluctant to make movies about black people, given how much of Hollywood’s history has been steeped in whiteness. A recent USC Annenberg report chronicling just the last 10 years of the top-grossing films in Hollywood found no significant changes when it comes to minorities in front of the camera. And when it comes to those behind the scenes, the numbers are just as bad, with a 2017 Directors Guild of America report noting that numbers of women and minority directors of feature films were abysmally low, accounting for 12 and 10% of movies, respectively.

Yet thanks to the work of increasingly powerful directors like Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler, and Barry Jenkins, more and more black stories are being told — and earning critical and commercial success in the process. It was Jenkins’ Moonlight that won the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture, beating out a field that included Hidden Figures, the box-office smash with a majority black cast that told the real-life story of black women mathematicians at NASA who played an integral role in the space race of the 1960s. “Yes, they let women do some things at NASA,” Taraji P. Henson’s character says in the film. “And it’s not because we wear skirts. It’s because we wear glasses.”

Michael Blackmon/BuzzFeed News

At last month’s San Diego Comic-Con, the annual convention where fans and industry figures mingle and get pumped for the year ahead in pop culture, there were plenty of black women who stood out in their inventive costumes from the white fanboys with whom the event is usually associated. Some were dressed as Supergirl or draped in their favorite Hogwarts students’ robes, while others donned homemade Dora Milaje costumes like the female warriors in Black Panther. One family, the Woods, had combined Jedi robes and lightsabers from Star Wars with Wakandan-inspired prints from Black Panther.

Jay Justice, an exhibitor who was attending Comic-Con this year for the seventh or eighth time, said social media had given people like her a voice. Now it feels as if Hollywood is listening.

“The media is slowly starting to cover a wider range of fans instead of just filming the cis, white, straight, able-bodied, big-tittied white girl that’s out there, and more power to them,” Justice said. “But we’re out here too. Women of color have been here.”

Michael Blackmon/BuzzFeed News.

The Wood family at San Diego Comic-Con.

Of course, black women nerds have taken up space in the real world for a lot longer than they’ve been depicted onscreen. Sherrell Dorsey is a technology journalist who’s been supporting entrepreneurs of color in North Carolina from her startup BLKTECHCLT since 2016. The Charlotte consulting hub has its own office — “the blackest thing you’ll ever see,” Dorsey describes it — where Harvard Business Review magazines lay alongside Black Panther comics on coffee tables, and art from black artists hangs on the walls.

Fed up with the way the news media would focus on white men (“Every single story is like Zuckerberg, Musk, Gates, whatever white person just raised a million dollars without having an actual company”), she hopes the rise of the black girl nerd in pop culture will shift future narratives for people like her young nieces.

“I love that right now we’re seeing a different kind of black woman onscreen, we’re seeing a different kind of black girl onscreen,” she said. “And I have nieces and it’s like now I’m able to go and buy them books and find movies for them to consume, and they’ll be able to grow up to see themselves in different capacities, even down to the new Barbie doll that is a STEM black woman with kinky hair.”

“I get to go out and purchase that for my niece,” said Dorsey. “That is going to be something that’s just part of her childhood, and she’ll never know the difference.”

Atsushi Nishijima / Disney

Storm Reid as Meg Murry in A Wrinkle in Time.

Though progress has been slow, black girl nerds remain hopeful for what these small instances of change may mean for the future.

“People need to understand that the problem over time with black women is that we’ve been put into a box, and we’ve been put into a singular story,” said Hancock, the web developer. “And now I want people to world-build, whatever worlds they were building as little girls. I hope that they have these images now and that they’re able to build their own worlds and their own universes and expand on what they would like to do, because the fact is, we deserve it.”

Justice, who trekked about the Comic-Con convention floor in a Dora Milaje costume she made after seeing the initial trailer for Black Panther, hopes the inclusion won’t solely fall on the shoulders of the Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernays of the world.

“I want more people to have the opportunity to create these characters, create these storylines,” she said. “We need to be not just on the page, on the stage; we need to be in the boardrooms, we need to be in the writing rooms,” she said. “There’s plenty of room at the table. We can all be there.

Friends Eliyannah Yisrael and Marlena Free were also among those attending the convention, the former wearing blue Ravenclaw robes while the latter had chosen Slytherin green.

“It feels good to feel seen.”

Free said she hopes the “inspiring” prevalence of smart black women onscreen this year shows that younger girls can “grow up and know that it’s okay to be smart.”

But for Yisrael, she’s just happy to be living in this moment.

“It feels good to feel seen,” she said. “’Cause I feel like I’ve always been the bookworm, but you kind of feel like you’re on an island by yourself a lot of the times, and now there’s so much visibility.”

Matt Kennedy/Marvel