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Netflix is one of peopleâ€™s favourite OTT platforms which has everything for everybody. Whether it be documentaries movies or shows. Netflix is the home for cinephiles or movie enthusiasts. Black actors have always blessed the screen with their charming and soul-invested acting performances.
Nobody can forget the performance of Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption and his thought-provoking dialogue about hope. Similarly Lupita Nyong’o performance in 12 years a slave is remarkable and unforgettable for which she won an academy award as well.
Cinema wouldn’t be the same without the individual brilliance of black actors on the screen. The emerging talent gives us some thrilling and engaging performance which deserves to be admired.
With the rich history of black actors today I am going to list down for you the best black teen movies and shows you must watch on Netflix.Â
1. Hard Lessons (The George McKenna Story) (1986)
|November 11 1986
|Denzel Washington Lynn Whitfield Akosua Busia
“Hard Lessons” is a suspenseful drama that focuses on the problem of inner-city violence and the hardships of a committed teacher attempting to make a difference in the lives of his students. As Mr Scott a strong and kind teacher who deals with a group of disruptive children in a risky high school in Eastside Detroit Denzel Washington provides a memorable performance.
The movie also explores the corruption and red tape that plague the educational system as Mr Scott encounters resistance from the police and the school administration in his attempts to assist his kids. This tale is already dramatic and emotional but the tension and conflict that result from these challenges add to it making for an engaging and thought-provoking viewing experience.
2. Menace II Society (1993)
|Albert Hughes Allen Hughes
|May 26 1993
|Tyrin Turner Larenz Tate Jane Kyoto Lu
This film is a powerful and unflinching look at life in the inner city and it is still considered a genre classic today. The plot revolves around Caine a young man who grows up in poverty and resorts to a life of crime to survive. The film does not shy away from depicting the harsh realities of ghetto life and it contains some intense and violent scenes. The film however is about more than just violence and crime; it also explores themes of loyalty friendship and family. The cast gives excellent performances particularly Tyrin Turner as Caine. Menace II Society is a powerful and important film that should be seen.
3. Amateur (2018)
|April 6 2018
|Michael Rainey Jr. Tekola Cornetet Hanna Longo
Ryan Koo is the director of the 2018 Netflix original movie Amateur. Terron Forte a basketball prodigy at 14 who is portrayed in the film by Michael Rainey Jr. is a young man who dreams of playing in the NBA. Yet when he joins a prep school team he learns of a dishonest structure that jeopardises his future.
The movie explores the brutal reality of the American youth basketball market wherein coaches agents and even family members frequently take advantage of and influence young athletes for the sake of the NBA dream of fame and money.
The outstanding Terron Forte performance by Michael Rainey Jr. is one of the movie’s highlights. The character is given sensitivity and honesty by Rainey which makes his difficulties and frustrations more relatable.
4. All American (2018)
|Michael Schultz David McWhirter
|October 10 2018
|Daniel Ezra Samantha Logan Michael Evans Behling
All American is a high school drama that delves into issues of race class and identity. Spencer James a talented football player from South Los Angeles is recruited to play for Beverly Hills High School where he experiences culture shock and must navigate the complexities of being a Black teenager in a predominantly white and affluent environment. The show depicts the challenges that young people of colour face in America in a realistic and nuanced manner including systemic racism cultural identity and socioeconomic inequality. The series also delves into its characters’ personal lives and relationships providing a well-rounded and engaging drama.
5. When They See Us (2019)
|May 31 2019
|Asante Blackk Caleel Harris Ethan Herisse
A tragic and gut-wrenching dramatisation of the erroneous convictions of five young Black and Hispanic men in the 1989 Central Park jogger case this limited series explores the injustices that occurred. A sombre reminder of the human cost of these injustices is given in the programme which delivers a scathing indictment of the systematic racism and unfairness in America’s criminal justice system. Focusing on the emotional impact of the events on the lives of the accused and their families the series is expertly directed and performed. It’s tough to see and impossible to forget “When They See Us” a significant and crucial piece of television.
6. All Day and a Night (2020)
|Joe Robert Cole
|May 1 2020
|Ashton Sanders Jeffrey Wright Isaiah Jones
Joe Robert Cole’s “All Day and a Night” is a 2020 American drama movie with Ashton Sanders Jeffrey Wright and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the lead roles. The movie tells the tale of a young guy named Jahkor who after receiving a life sentence in jail considers the circumstances that drove him to commit crimes and use violence.
The movie explores important ideas like family identity and the cycle of violence. The acting in the movie is superb especially Ashton Sanders’ depiction of Jahkor which is complex and nuanced. It is a vital reminder of the need for social and economic change in our society and provides a compelling reflection on the structural problems that contribute to cycles of violence and poverty.
7. Blood & Water (2020)
|May 20 2020
|Ama Qamata Khosi Ngema Gail Mabalane
This South African teen drama follows the story of Puleng a young woman who is looking for her long-lost sister who was abducted at birth. With a storyline that is both thrilling and emotionally engaging the show provides a unique and refreshing take on the teen drama genre. The series addresses issues such as family loyalty identity and social status as well as the challenges that young people in South Africa face.
8. Vampires vs The Bronx (2020)
|October 2 2020
|Jaden Michael Gerald Jones Sarah Gadon
This film is a fantastic blend of horror and comedy that tackles some serious topics lightheartedly. The film is set in the Bronx and follows a group of adolescent friends who notice their neighbourhood changing as new businesses and wealthy residents move in. But they soon discover that the changes in their neighbourhood aren’t just the result of gentrification; vampires are on the loose and are preying on the locals. The young cast is fantastic and they have excellent chemistry. The film’s humour is well-executed and never feels forced or cheesy. The horror elements work well as well with some truly creepy moments. Overall Vampires vs. The Bronx is a fun entertaining film worth seeing.
9. Colin in Black and White (2021)
|October 29 2021
|Jaen Michael Nick Offerman Mary-Louise parker
This series depicts the life of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a moving and thought-provoking manner. Kaepernick and renowned director Ava DuVernay created the show which is a semi-autobiographical account of Kaepernick’s formative years growing up as a biracial Black child adopted by a white family. The series focuses on the difficulties and complexities of navigating racial identity as a Black person in America as well as the difficulties of pursuing a dream while confronted with systemic racism and prejudice. The show also discusses Kaepernick’s activism which led to his protesting racial injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games.
These teen movies and shows with a couple of oldies on the list are enough to show the talent black actors bring forth to the cinema. A good story marvels when it is executed by powerful and finessed acting. Black teen films have played a significant role in cinema providing a window into the lives of young African Americans and their challenges with identity relationships and social expectations. Black teen movies have been essential in exposing a variety of themes and views. These films have not only been enjoyable but they have also been an effective tool for fostering social change and increasing public awareness of significant problems affecting black kids. Black teen movies have made an enduring impression on American film with their compelling storytelling enduring characters and universal themes. They also continue to inspire and connect with viewers around the world.