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“I want to continue to see Black narratives outside of traditional modes of accepted storylines,” Brian Michael Smith tells EW.

By Alamin Yohannes
February 24, 2021 at 03:50 PM EST
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The people who bring characters to life and create stories themselves are sharing what they want to see in Black art.

We're celebrating Black storytelling this month for Black History Month, and part of that includes asking actors and filmmakers what they want to see next. Between wanting more stories and specific groups within the Black community getting better representation, celebrities like Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Jordan Fisher, Brian Michael Smith, Amber Stevens West, and more reveal to EW what they want when it comes to the stories being told about Black people. (Watch the full video above.)

Black Panther and recent successes like One Night In Miami are a great start, but there's more terrain to be covered. Batwoman star Camrus Johnson is delighted we got Black Panther, but tells EW he wants to see more huge worlds with big budgets. He wants to see what worlds equal in size to franchises like Game of Thrones, Indiana Jones, and 007 look like with Black characters at the center of them. Malcolm-Jamal Warner says he wants to see the types of stories being told about Black people expand. We see repetition in the stories being told, and The Resident star says he believes there should be an increase in scope and recognition. Brian Michael Smith (9-1-1: Lone Star) agrees, telling EW: "I want to continue to see Black narratives outside of traditional modes of accepted storylines." Smith wants to see more Black science fiction and stories exploring Black history beyond the ones we see currently.

Many stars highlighted specific areas where more storytelling and representation are necessary. Amber Stevens West is happy we're starting to tell stories where Black characters aren't one-note, but says she wants more of them. Everything's Gonna Be Okay star Adam Faison says he wants to see more representation of the Black deaf and hard of hearing community. The Hate U Give author Angie Thomas hopes to see more stories about young people and preteens on screens, something she says she's happy to see an increase in when it comes to books. "I would love to see more films about young Black teenagers in love and young Black teens on road trips and young Black teens in horror houses," she explains, "I want to see a Black girl bring home a vampire and see how her dad reacts."

Jordan Fisher (To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You) believes we need more stories that explore the relationship Black communities have with mental health. As someone who has his own experience with anxiety and depression, Fisher says he doesn't hear many Black people discussing it – and normalizing it – and he'd like to see Black art reflect that.

Looking past the point where Black voices are fighting to be appreciated, Mehcad Brooks hopes that Black stops being used as an adjective. "We have a long way to go when it comes to equity," the Mortal Kombat star shares, "But I am longing for the day where we don't separate Black History from history, we don't separate Black art from art, and these expressions are just accepted and appreciated by mainstream culture."

"When it comes to art, I just feel like we're in a time of starting to express who we really are as a people. And I really would just love to continue to see that flourish," explains Reign Edwards.

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