Black Representation in The Wiz Live!

By Olivia Simmons and Princess Mazagwu

America is a place rife with racial tensions. These past few months, we’ve been seeing more and more instances of racially motivated hate crimes because as Will Smith aptly put, they’re finally “being filmed.” This has allowed racial injustices that have long been swept under the rug to finally be acknowledged on a large-scale, at least via social media. Advocates are seeking out various films and books on how to educate themselves. The musical The Wiz is a production through which advocates can glean further insights on representations of blackness in America, and what societal practices have put the black community at a disadvantage. Oppressive racial systems are only reinforced by trends in popular culture that lead to whiteness being the norm. Musicals like The Wiz subvert this trend by being unequivocally black creations. From the anecdotes, to the music, to the casting- The Wiz is a musical production that black Americans can look at and finally see themselves represented. The Wiz set a precedent for the telling of black stories through its historical and cultural references. This interview explores The Wiz Live!, a television special that aired on NBC in 2015. The show was produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and is an adaptation of the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz.

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