That instantly iconic on the internet a week after Juneteenth 2018 is called A Great Day in Hollywood, it’s chock full of people and history. There are a few important facts about this photo, and the original it pays homage to. BGN has compiled a list of 10 of the most interesting. The list includes facts about behind the scenes at the photo shoot, quotes from the creators, and some history about the 60-year-old original that inspired the A Great Day in Hollywood photo.
- The photo was taken in spring 2018 and contains 57 Black creatives from more than 20 Netflix shows, documentaries, and films. This is the same number of creatives in the original photo 60 years ago.
- The original from an Esquire magazine shoot in 1958 for a special jazz issue of the magazine. There were 57 of the best and most popular jazz musicians in the industry at that time. They all gathered at a brownstone in Harlem for one of the most famous photos in music history.
3. The current project came about a year or so ago as Netflix began telling the stories behind some of its most popular shows that contain people of color, specifically Black people. Last year’s #FirstTimeISawMe was a viral hit that had people in Hollywood, fans, and many others telling stories on social media about when they saw their first Black or Latinx character onscreen.
4. The kids in the A Great Day in Harlem photo were just little boys playing in the neighborhood.
5. Lacey Duke, director of the shoot, was quoted as saying, “Alfre Woodard even lead everyone in an epic rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before we started shooting. It was beautiful, and in a flash, it was over. It was probably the most overwhelming two hours of my career haha. I was just so happy to be a part of history.”
6. The narrator Caleb McLaughlin opens the video with, ” This is a New Day. Built from the ground broken by legends. A Day for our generation to see untold experiences of our BLACKNESS.” The entire project speaks to the changes that have taken place in Hollywood to allow more Black voices to be heard onscreen and behind the camera.
7. The A Great Day in Harlem photo took place during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. It also came a decade before Black superheroes led stories in comics and about a few decades blaxploitation films began to tell the Black experience, created by Black artists, as an exaggeration of their lives at the time.
8. A documentary about the 1958 photo was released in 1994 and titled A Great Day in Harlem. It tells about how the idea for the photo and all the parties involved came together to make a piece of history.
9. Here’s a list of the Black creatives in the photo in alphabetical order (courtesy of Netflix’s Strong Black Lead team). Many of these are household names. In this climate of success for Black creatives, the rest will be just as common soon.
Can you tell who’s who?
Ajiona Alexus (13 Reasons Why
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage; Juanita)
Alisha Boe (13 Reasons Why)
Antoinette Robertson (Dear White People)
Antonique Smith (Luke Cage)
Ashley Blaine Featherson (Dear White People)
Ava DuVernay (13th, Central Park Five)
Brett Gray (On My Block)
Britney Young (GLOW)
Caleb McLaughlin (Stranger Things)
Chante Adams (Roxanne Roxanne)
Cheo Hodari Coker (Luke Cage)
Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black)
Dawn Porter (Bobby Kennedy for President)
DeRay Davis (How To Act Black)
Derek Luke (13 Reasons Why)
DeRon Horton (Dear White People)
Gabrielle Dennis (Luke Cage)
Hayley Law (Altered Carbon; Riverdale)
Justin Simien (Dear White People)
Justine Simmons (All About The Washingtons)
Kano (Top Boy)
Kat Graham (The Holiday Calendar; How It Ends)
Kia Stevens (GLOW)
Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black)
Lena Waithe (Master of None; Dear White People; Step Sisters)
Logan Browning (Dear White People)
Marlon Wayans (Naked; Woke-ish)
Marque Richardson (Dear White People; Step Sisters)
Mike Colter (Luke Cage)
Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage)
Nia Long (Roxanne Roxanne, Dear White People)
Nia Jervier (Dear White People; Step Sisters)
Priah Ferguson (Stranger Things)
Quincy Brown (The Holiday Calendar)
Rev Run (All About The Washingtons)
Russell Hornsby (Seven Seconds)
Sacha Jenkins (Rapture)
Samantha Logan (13 Reasons Why)
Sierra Capri (On My Block)
Simone Missick (Luke Cage)
Spike Lee (She’s Gotta Have It)
Steven Silver (13 Reasons Why)
Sydelle Noel (GLOW)
Vaneza Oliveira (3%)
Yance Ford (Strong Island)
10. This project–and many others showcasing Black excellence on the streaming service–is a brought to us by the Netflix Strong Black Lead Team. You can see what they are planning next by following on Twitter @StrongBlackLead. Tell them the Black Girl Nerds sent you!
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Jonita Davis is a writer, mother, a certified nerd, and writer of Black Girl Nerds. Davis is a critic and journalist. She has been writing for 13 years about the way pop culture and politics affect our lives as parents, women, black women, nerds, and people of this planet.