A number of black-oriented movies and television shows debuted at the American Black Film Festival earlier this month, celebrating the brilliance and creativity of black art. But don’t fret if you missed the festival; there are a lot of black films and TV shows to look forward to this summer. Here’s a list of seven must-see productions showcasing the talent of black casts, producers, directors, and writers.
Insecure (Season 3)
On Monday, HBO released the first trailer for the highly anticipated third season of Insecure, revealing that Issa, played by lead actress and show creator Issa Rae, may finally be over her ex Lawrence (Jay Ellis). In the clip, she is seen enjoying single life with her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji), Tiffany (Amanda Seales), and Kelli (Natasha Rothwell). However, she may rekindle her fling with Daniel (Y’lan Noel), who also makes an appearance in the promo.
Official synopsis: Modern-day black women might be described as strong and confident; in other words, just the opposite of Issa and Molly. As the best friends deal with their own real-life flaws, their insecurities come to the fore as together they cope with an endless series of uncomfortable everyday experiences. Created by co-star Issa Rae and writer/comic Larry Wilmore (The Daily Show With Jon Stewart), the comedy series looks at the friendship of two black women in a unique, authentic way. It features the music of both indie and established artists of color, and touches on a variety of social and racial issues that relate to the contemporary black experience.
Release date: August 12
Superfly puts a modern-day spin on the 1972 blaxploitation classic, starring Trevor Jackson as the snazzy antihero. Set in Atlanta, the movie is filled with fancy cars, hip-hop, and strip clubs. The Sony and Silver Pictures’ reboot debuted on June 13 earning an estimated $1.2 million.
Official synopsis: Cocaine kingpin Youngblood Priest realizes that it’s time to get out of the game after surviving a violent attack from a crazed rival. Hoping for one last score, Priest and his partner travel to Mexico to arrange a deal. The career criminal now finds himself trying to outmaneuver the cartel, two corrupt police officers and all the double-crossers that threaten his path to freedom.
Release date: June 13
Luke Cage (Season 2)
Cheo Hodari Coker’s adaption of Marvel’s Luke Cage has been a fan favorite since the streeaming series first premiered in 2016. The gritty superhero series features an all-star cast of actors of color, including Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Alfre Woodard, Mustafa Shakir, Gabrielle Dennis, and Rosario Dawson.
Official synopsis: After clearing his name, Luke Cage (played by actor Mike Colter) has become a celebrity on the streets of Harlem, with a reputation as bulletproof as his skin. But being so visible has only increased his need to protect the community and find the limits of who he can and can’t save. With the rise of a formidable new foe, Luke is forced to confront the fine line that separates a hero from a villain.
Premiere date: June 22
Love Is __
Love Is_ is a new romantic series that promises to bring all the delicious feels of ‘90s nostalgia. The show is based on the real-life romance of award-winning producer Mara Brock Akil—the mastermind behind Girlfriends, The Game, and Being Mary Jane— and her husband Salim Akil. Set in 1990s L.A., actors Michele Weaver and William Catlett play Mara and Salim when they first started dating back in 1997.
Official synopsis: Michele Weaver and Will Catlett star in OWN’s new romantic drama Love Is___, from award-winning producers Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends, Being Mary Jane, The Game) and Salim Akil (Black Lightning). Set primarily in 1990s Los Angeles against the backdrop of Black Hollywood, Love Is___ follows Nuri (Michele Weaver) and Yasir (Will Catlett), a couple from seemingly opposite worlds, as they chase their dreams and learn to follow their hearts. Told from the perspective of the couple’s present-day selves, the romantic drama also revisits the social issues and vibrant black culture of that time reflecting on how it all aligned to shape the couple they have become nearly 20 years later—a power couple navigating a complex set of social codes while also balancing successful careers and a beautiful family. Drawing inspiration from creators Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil’s own relationship journey, the series explores the highs, the lows, and the magic of falling (and staying) in love.
Premiere date: June 19
Sorry To Bother You
Sorry To Bother You is a surreal Afro-futuristic comedy that pushes an anti-capitalist message. Mic describes Sorry to Bother You as a likely “cultural sensation” that “deftly captures the folly of these times.”
Official synopsis: Sorry To Bother You is an alternate present-day version of Oakland. Telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe. The ensemble cast consists of Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Omari Hardwick, Jermaine Fowler, and Danny Glover. The film is written and directed by Boots Riley and produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Charles D. King and George Rush with distribution by Annapurna Pictures.
Release date: July 6
The First Purge
The First Purge is based on a social experiment that lifts all laws in America for 12 hours on Independence Day. The cast includes several actors of color like Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, and Joivan Wade.
Official synopsis: Behind every tradition lies a revolution. Next Independence Day, witness the rise of our country’s 12 hours of annual lawlessness. Welcome to the movement that began as a simple experiment: The First Purge.
To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.
Release date: July 4
Extraordinary filmmakers Spike Lee and Jordan Peele teamed up to produce one of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer, BlacKkKlansman.
Official synopsis: From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero. It’s the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream. Produced by the team behind the Academy-Award® winning film Get Out.
Release date: August 10
Queen Sugar (Season 3)
Season 3 of Queen Sugar debuted with a two-part premiere on May 29 and 30, picking up exactly where season 2 left off. The premiere addressed both the prospective sale of the mill and the resolution of Ralph Angel and Darla’s relationship.
Official Synopsis: Queen Sugar tells the story of the estranged Bordelon siblings in Louisiana. At the center of the family are Nova, a journalist and activist; Charley, the wife and manager of an NBA player; and formerly incarcerated father Ralph Angel, who is searching for redemption. Following a tragedy in the family, the siblings must put their complicated lives aside so that they can come together to run the clan’s struggling sugar cane farm. Also involved in the farm are Aunt Violet and family friend Remy Newell.
Premiere date: May 29 and 30