Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Watch Me Work 2: Black Corporates in Popular Films

This post is the much anticipated sequel to our post Watch Me Work. This time we're focusing on popular movies that feature Black people in Corporate America.

Laurel Ayers, The Associate
Laurel Ayers is sick of being treated differently because she is a young Black woman, so she becomes an old White man. After quitting her job to start her own firm, the investment banker changes her gender and complexion to rise to the top.

Marcus Graham, Boomerang
Marcus Graham is a successful advertising executive who is also popular with women. He finds his career in uncertain territory when his company is bought out. Marcus attempts to sleep is way to the top with the well-seasoned head of the new company, only to find out that she is more of a figurehead. He then sets his sights to his attractive new boss who is as much of a detached, sexed-up walking ego as he is.  

Peerless Dothan, Bamboozled
To his coworkers, Peerless is Pierre Delacroix, an ivy-educated television executive. He has assumed a new name and put on airs in order to gain success. However, his white boss frequently rejects his scripts about intelligent, hardworking black people. It is not until he presents the idea of a minstrel show (literally a blackface minstrel show) that he gains notoriety and prosperity. He pulls this stunt in an attempt to get fired and released from he contract, but the script is actually accepted and the show is produced. He receives awards and acclaim for feeding into the racist fantasies of White America. When selling out goes wrong...

Shanté Smith, Two Can Play that Game
Though Shanté Smith’s real career in the film is a relationship pseudo-expert, we get glimpses of her life as a senior advertising executive. She identifies herself as an “educated, strong sista.” Shanté's nemesis is a vice president of marketing at a rival company. Instead of keeping it in the office, their feud spills over into competing over a man, Keith the corporate lawyer. Shanté’s friend Karen is the youngest executive at her engineering firm with her own man issues. While this film is full of professionally successful Black women, they all are on the love struggle bus.

Chris Gardener, The Pursuit of Happyness
While our other picks are fictional characters, this portrayal of a real-life corporate success story could not be overlooked. In dire straights, Christopher Gardener did a 6-month internship to secure a permanent position as a stockbroker. Very few working professionals would take advantage of an unpaid internship to get ahead, but they can often be great opportunities to get noticed by the right people. 

Jordan Armstrong, The Best Man Holiday
Since the first movie, Jordan has risen to director of programming at a major television network. This is no surprise to Best Man fans as Jordan was the no nonsense, workaholic career woman in the first movie. We see a brief glimpse of her posh office as a sign of her success, but her storyline focuses on her budding interracial romance.

Who’s your favorite Black Corporate professional on the big screen?

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