Do you know who Shanola Hampton is? I think you should because Shanola is an actress who isn’t beautiful. Not in the traditional sense of African-American beauty portrayed in the media. Hampton started acting ten years ago and decided that wearing her hair in dreadlocks instead of permed and straighten was who she really is and that shouldn’t have to change for her to be a great actress.
Traditional in mainstream television, the image of black women is not usually a positive one. Common tv tropes give black women one dimension, that of a sassy loud mouth who is over weight and has a hard time finding man. Here are more than a few examples. I know what your thinking, this is the twenty-first century, that doesn’t happen anymore. I wish that was true. More often than not, black women are ignored when it comes to character creation or development in television. This is why what Shanola Hampton has done is so important.
When she auditioned for the role she plays in SHAMELESS, it wasn’t written with a black woman in mind. Rarely does a person of color, let alone a woman, get cast in a role that doesn’t specifically call for a person of color. To have her not only get the role but be a dark-skinned women with natural hair is a pretty big deal. I don’t know if we are witnessing the beginning of a shift in the image of black women in the media but as least we can highlight the bright spots when they shine.