Books By and About Black Hollywood

Staff Picks

Books By and About Black Hollywood

Read the Writing of This Tinseltown Gem

Hollywood. The land of opportunity. Where dreams are made and dreams are deferred. Where actors, actresses, and creatives from around the world travel to become the next big thing; tell the next big story. But, did you know there was more than one Hollywood? Yup. There's Hollywood, then there's Black Hollywood. Check out this booklist for more on the tinseltown gem whose opposition against anti-Black racism helped shape Black art, artists, and audiences around the globe.

Just As I Am: A Memoir by Cicely Tyson with Michelle Burford; Foreword by Viola Davis

Cicely Tyson is a cultural icon. From TV to film, and an award-winning career spanning over 60+ years, Ms. Tyson is also a legend. But, on January 28, 2021, at the tender age of 96, this legend transitioned---stunning fans and admirers alike. But before she passed, she graced us with a memoir, Just As I Am----a work she reflected on until her very last day.  In it, she reflects on multi-dimension.

“Just as I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word. I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. I am a daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” 

If you’re a fan of Ms. Tyson and want to explore more, this one's for you. 

Hollywood Black: The Stars, the Films, the Filmmakers by Donald Bogle; Foreword by John Singleton

What is Black Hollywood? Who is Black Hollywood? In Hollywood Black: The Stars, the Films, the Filmmakers by Donald Bogle, readers gain insight into what and who Black Hollywood is. With a foreword by the late John Singleton, one of Hollywood's most outstanding screenwriters, directors, and  producers, this book journeys us through the decades (starting in the early 1900s). It examines the themes and figures that have long impacted the industry including stereotypes and the birth of the Black filmmaker. From Gordon Parks to Spike Lee; Dorothy Dandrige to Whoopi Goldberg; and Black Panther to Blaxsploitation, this book is an in-depth, chronological look at the history and culture of Black cinema. If you want more, this one's for you. 

Around the Way Girl: A Memoir by Taraji P. Henson with Denene Millner

Taraji P. Henson is a DC girl. And, this DC girl took her hopes and dreams to Hollywood. In her memoir, Around the Way Girl, Henson explores her DC roots, her journey through single motherhood, and her quest for truth. She examines her beloved screen characters, Yvette (Babyboy), Queenie (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button),Shug (Hustle & Flow), and the iconic Cookie Lyon from Empire, while reflecting on her time as a Howard University student. Henson is an open book.  If you're a fan of this DC native and want to learn more, this one’s for you. 

The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jenifer Lewis with Malaika Adero

You may know her from Black-Ish but Ms. Jenifer Lewis' career started long before. "From her more than three hundred appearances for film and television, stage and cabaret…Jennifer Lewis has established herself as one of the most respected, admired, talented, and versatile entertainers working today." (Harper Collins) In her book, The Mother of Black Hollywood, she explores a journey of healing and humor. She reflects on a diverse career and a, then, undiagnosed mental illness which resulted in a breakdown while filming the 1998 film, The Temptations. This book is filled with stories worth sharing. If you’re  a fan of this Black Hollywood royalty and her story of  mental health, this one's for you. 

Black Hollywood: From Butlers to Superheroes, the Changing Role of African-American Men in the Movies by Kimberly Fain

Black Hollywood: From Butlers to Superheroes, the Changing Role of African-American Men in the Movies examines the trials and triumphs of Black male representation in Hollywood. A work grounded in historic references, Fain reflects on "images that were once imposed on Black men and are now appropriated and manipulated by them." She goes back as early as 1910 to explore African-American men in film and brings us to modern day. She discusses whether "these images are a reflection of society's fears or realistic depictions of a pluralistic America." As Hollywood is examined for its racist, anti-Black roots, Fain adds to the discussion. If you're interested in learning more about the history and culture of Black men in cinema, this is for you.