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The Relationship Between Urban Fiction, Black Film, and Television



Urban Fiction, also known as street lit, has been a popular genre among African American readers for over two decades. The genre is characterized by its gritty, raw depictions of urban life, often focusing on the struggles and triumphs of black characters navigating their environments. In recent years, Urban Fiction has become increasingly intertwined with black television and film, with many popular stories being adapted into screenplays and series. In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between Urban Fiction and black television and film and how it has influenced both industries.


One of the primary reasons for the close relationship between Urban Fiction and black television and film is the shared focus on telling authentic stories about the Black experience. Urban Fiction authors often draw from their own experiences and observations, creating narratives that resonate with readers who can relate to the characters and their struggles. Similarly, Black television and film creators aim to bring diverse, nuanced portrayals of black life to the screen, challenging stereotypes and misconceptions.


This shared focus on authenticity has led to a natural overlap between the two industries, with many Urban Fiction writers being approached to adapt their work for the screen. One example of this is the popular crime drama, Power. The series was created by Courtney A. Kemp, who drew inspiration from her experiences as a writer in the Urban Fiction genre. The show follows the story of James "Ghost" St. Patrick, a drug dealer and nightclub owner trying to leave his criminal past behind. The success of Power has led to several spin-off series, demonstrating the power of Urban Fiction as a source of compelling, dynamic storytelling.


Another example of the relationship between Urban Fiction and Black television and film is the recent adaptation of Colson Whitehead's novel, The Underground Railroad. The novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017, tells the story of a young slave named Cora who escapes a plantation in Georgia and travels north on the Underground Railroad. The novel's powerful themes of freedom, courage, and resilience have resonated with readers, making it a natural choice for adaptation to the screen. The series, which was produced by Barry Jenkins and premiered on Amazon Prime Video in 2021, received critical acclaim for its stunning visuals, powerful performances, and faithful adaptation of the source material.


Even the film "Precious," which was based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire. The film was directed by Lee Daniels, a Black man, and it tells the story of Precious Jones, a young Black girl living in poverty and dealing with abuse and trauma. The film is a powerful and emotional exploration of the impact of systemic oppression on Black women, and it's been praised for its unflinching portrayal of the realities of life in the inner city.


The relationship between Urban Fiction and black television and film has also created opportunities for new voices and perspectives to be heard. As more Urban Fiction authors are approached for screen adaptations, they bring with them their unique perspectives and voices, adding to the diversity of stories being told on the screen. Furthermore, the success of Urban Fiction adaptations has opened doors for new writers to break into the industry, providing a platform for underrepresented voices to be heard.


Black stories are more important now than ever, and our voices are beginning to be heard by the masses. The future of Urban Fiction and Black television is looking real bright, and we couldn’t be any more excited to contribute to this incredible development in the genre at this time.


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