It’s Black History Month, a time to pause and respect the plain impression Black individuals have had on the historical past of the United States and the world. We acknowledge the wrestle, sure, and the entire issues Black individuals have overcome — however we additionally have fun life, love and Black pleasure. Isn’t it poetic, then, that Valentine’s Day happens throughout Black History Month? It’s the proper purpose to highlight all of the issues we love about Black tradition and to acknowledge how far we’ve come in the case of seeing Black love unencumbered by Black trauma onscreen. 

Black love in TV and flicks has hit a stunning stride as of late. The previous few years have seen a lot of nice movies just like the lately launched Malcolm & Marie, which plopped us in the midst of a dramatic battle between lovers. Moonlight confirmed us a coming-of-age story full with a decades-long love story. The Photograph gave us love throughout generations. Sylvie’s Love transported us again to the mid-1900s for a love story that felt concurrently contemporary and traditional.

Upon launch, The Photograph noticed loads of comparisons to the 1997 movie Love Jones. Director Stella Meghie stated she was grateful, calling Love Jones “an iconic Black romance film” and saying “if you are doing it right, probably someone is going to mention it.” She additionally defined to ET’s Nischelle Turner the impact that Love Jones had on her rising up. “It’s just one of those things that’s inside of you,” she stated. 

The {couples} in these movies be part of a protracted line of lovebirds in traditional Black films and TV reveals who’ve imprinted common tradition. So let’s take a better take a look at the popular culture moments that show these timeless Black TV and film {couples}’ lasting impression.


Love Jones

In 2006, Kanye West launched a video for Touch the Sky, which featured cameos by not solely the hilarious Tracee Ellis Ross, but additionally the one and solely Nia Long. Her look within the video was impressed by one key lyric: “Couldn’t keep it at home, thought I needed a Nia Long.”

Back within the ‘90s — and even to this present day — everybody thought they wanted a Nia Long or that they wanted to be Nia Long. The infatuation sprang from her many roles as a love curiosity to the likes of Will Smith (on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (in Boyz n the Hood) and Larenz Tate (in Love Jones). Her function as Nina in Love Jones made her a mainstay in acquainted casts within the Black romantic film growth of the ‘90s and early 2000s. 

Poetic Justice

Starring Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson, Poetic Justice shortly grew to become a favourite. The film had an instantaneous impact on style and likewise features a incredible early efficiency from Regina King and poetry by the legendary Maya Angelou.

Jackson has credited her work with Shakur within the movie for serving to her get away of her shell. The movie was launched in 1993, the identical 12 months as her sturdy, attractive self-titled album and 4 years forward of the adventurous The Velvet Rope

With Jackson and Shakur main the solid, the film nearly looks like a hip-hop and R&B collaboration. So it’s no marvel the movie has influenced rap music. Kendrick Lamar launched “Poetic Justice” that includes Drake and a teasing hook from Janet Jackson in 2016. 

Big Sean and Jhene Aiko tackle Shakur’s and Jackson’s characters within the 2020 music video for the track “Body Language.” The video additionally recreates scenes from Love Jones, The Best Man and Waiting to Exhale. “Big homage paying to a few of my favorite flicks growin up,” the rapper wrote on Instagram in regards to the films he referenced in his music video. 

Waiting to Exhale

Waiting to Exhale totes a stellar solid (Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon, Gregory Hines… ) and equally unimaginable soundtrack (Whitney Houston, Babyface, Toni Braxton… ). And whereas there are lots of memorable scenes, the second when Angela Bassett’s Bernadine hits her restrict and units her dishonest husband’s automotive ablaze has been reimagined in TV reveals, music movies and the gif that claims a thousand phrases, even while you solely have 280 characters. 

through GIPHY

The film celebrated its twenty fifth anniversary in December of final 12 months, and Bassett spoke of how vital it nonetheless is. “I say it still holds up,” Bassett instructed ET’s Kevin Frazier of the movie, which nonetheless has a faithful fan base even a quarter-century after its 1995 launch. “To that point we hadn’t seen films that told the lives of older Black women. [And] it was the first of a film that featured women for women, so it was really, you know, a trailblazer.”  

The Best Man

Love Jones’ Nia Long additionally stars within the 1999 movie The Best Man, together with different members of the Black love growth crew: Taye Diggs (How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Brown Sugar), Morris Chestnut (The Inkwell, Two Can Play That Game), Sanaa Lathan (Love & Basketball, Brown Sugar) and Terrence Howard (Yes, Ashanti’s “Foolish” video counts right here). 

The Best Man’s ensemble solid, their romantic connections and friendships and the blurred traces between, grew to become a template for a lot of Black rom-coms to return. And the movie’s marriage ceremony scene influenced many real-life nuptials. 

The beloved movie obtained a sequel, The Best Man Holiday, in 2013. The Best Man: Final Chapters restricted sequence, headed to Peacock, was simply introduced. 

Television Shows

Movies aren’t the one supply for inspiration in the case of Black {couples} who’ve had an impact on the tradition. And as a result of our small display has now change into our massive display, it’s vital to offer these characters their due. 

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The impression The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has had on tv and common tradition is clear. Similar to The Cosby Show earlier than it, the present opened up what a Black household on tv might be and a brand new illustration of Black life…

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

… and Black love. The bond between Uncle Phil (James Avery) and Aunt Viv (Janet Hubbard from 1990-1993 and Daphne Maxwell Reid from 1993-1996) was the bedrock on which this traditional household stood. 

J. Cole outlined the kind of love he’d prefer to have in his track, “No Role Modelz.” The rapper begins by pointing to Uncle Phil as “the only father that [I] ever knew,” and later says he desires “a real love, dark-skinned Aunt Viv love.” GoldLink kicks off Christina Aguilera’s track, “Like I Do,” with a verse that features the road, “Let’s start a family, I’m Uncle Phil, you my Aunt Viv.” 

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air solid reconnected late final 12 months and, throughout the reunion, they spoke of their love for the late Avery. “I fell in love with him as soon as I met him,” Reid stated of her on-screen husband. “He was so generous in heart and spirit and so smart and so open too, I mean, his life was a big hug.”

A Different World

Where the Huxtables gave us illustration of a Black American household, The Cosby Show‘s spinoff, A Different World, confirmed us the lives of younger Black college students in an HBCU setting. The classes realized weren’t simply at school — these characters additionally skilled, amongst different issues, younger love. Lisa Bonet (Denise Huxtable) was solely a part of the solid for the present’s first season. In the top, this was positive, because the true stars of the present emerged: Jasmine Guy (Whitley Gilbert) and Kadeem Hardison (Dwayne Wayne). The saga of Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne stays one among tv’s greatest love tales, performed out over six seasons.

A Different World-Whitley_DwayneWayne_Jazmine Guy_Kadeem Hardison

Getty Images/NBC

Style within the late ’80s and ’90s was straight influenced by this couple — the Dwayne’s flip-up shades and Whitley’s iconic skirt fits. The couple has been referenced in songs by J. Cole (“Know we be arguing, but ain’t you riding with me / We breaking up, we making up like Dwayne Wayne and Whitley”) and Nicki Minaj (“I was on the plane with Dwayne / You can call me Whitley, I go to Hillman / Listen, I’m the baddest in the school, the baddest in the game / Excuse me, honey, but nobody’s in my lane”).  


Martin, starring Martin Lawrence (Martin) and Tisha Campbell (Gina), had an plain impression on trendy tradition. Set in Detroit, the celebs and themes of the present have been unabashedly Black. Stars like Biggie Smalls, OutKast and Snoop Dogg visitor starred on the present, bringing extra consideration to the increasing hip-hop scene within the Nineties. And although we solely converse of the primary 4 seasons of Martin (season 5 onward is a extra tumultuous dialog) there’s no match for that iconic, greatest pal love portrayed by Lawrence and Campbell. “The one thing I’m most proud of with Martin is that it shows a Black man loving and respecting his Black woman,” Lawrence instructed Vibe journal in 1997 of the connection on the heart of the present. 

Phrases from the present nonetheless reside in our vernacular (“You go, girl!” and “Damn Gina!” being the preferred). References to the love bond in Martin have popped in music by artists like SZA (“Go Gina”), Polo G (“Martin & Gina”) and others. LeBron James sometimes posts Martin clips on his Instagram. Campbell continues to be referred to as “Gina” when followers see her in public, but it surely doesn’t trouble her. “I get that all the time but I don’t mind. I love it. I love that people revere it so much that all of the memes, they come from that and people love it and I appreciate it. We all do,” she told ET’s Kevin Frazier. 

Campbell had more to share on the impact of Martin. “There were so many Black shows going on at the time. What was important was that there were two young African American people who were in love,” the actress continued. “Now, we had The Cosby Show representation. But we really [never] had two young people who were having fun, discovering each other, discovering life. I think that is [why] there are so many songs about Martin and Gina.” 

For the newest content material celebrating Black History Month, please go to our Black History Month web page, or learn extra in our Black Stories part. And don’t miss our Black History Month particular on ET Live.