The Black Kino Fist: Black life as depicted in film history

Waiting to Exhale (1995)

"When Waiting to Exhale came out, the Los Angeles Times hailed it as a “social phenomenon.” I am inclined to agree. It was in fact, such a phenomenon that 20 years later, we still haven’t seen another movie starring four black actresses achieve such mainstream success.

It’s a celebration of the necessity of female friendship. It’s also a complex portrait of imperfect women (from before everyone was trying to write complex portraits of imperfect women). None of the protagonists are ever painted as struggling, barren career woman, just women with some stuff to figure out.

More important, the movie hinged on a stellar cast of black women, and while it explored experiences unique to them, it still appealed on a universal level — people of all colors and backgrounds get screwed over by their exes. And even though the story was being told by four black women, it “showed women that in spite of fractured relationships, joy, peace, love and kinship are always a possibility. It broke perception, preconception and history,” says Bassett in a recent interview with the L.A. Times.

Everyone — including men who have had their car torched by a hot woman — can find representation in Waiting to Exhale. Which is key, because even two decades later, it feels like we’re still struggling to accept that stories told by people of color can appeal to all people."

- Allison P. Davis
Status: Available for purchase

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