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11 Indie films starring black actors to catch on Netflix

The movie industry is just that — an industry. It's a business, and like any business it exists to turn a profit. For this reason, Hollywood tends to stick with formulaic trends that yield big box office bucks. Although producing movies that cater to the masses certainly works for these purposes, it doesn't always make for the most diverse, socially relevant or stimulating content. It's my belief that the role of art, cinema in particular, is to do more than just entertain. The stories we see on screen and the characters we fall in love with become part of us, they expand the way we think, refine our opinions and rally compassion for people who may not look, talk or think like us; they expose us to worlds far beyond our reach.

A really great movie has the power to change individuals and shift culture.

This is what makes independent films so important. Without executives and corporate sponsors to answer to, directors are free to take risks on stories that haven't been told. The down side is that, aside from the occasional breakout, these films often struggle for exposure due to their lack of promotion budget, distribution and well-known actors. The great news is that streaming services such as Netflix have been adding them to their rosters, making indie films available to their massive subscription base. If Netflix & chill is on your agenda, here are 11 indie films starring black actors that I'd encourage you to check out:

1. Our Song

Check out a young Kerri Washington in this 2000 film about three teenage girls coming of age while on summer vacation.
Photo: thefilmexperience.net Photo: thefilmexperience.net

2. My Last Day Without You

Catch Nicole Beharie in this 2011 romance about a young female musician who exposes a new love interest to a different side of life. Photo: seoulmama.soup.io Photo: seoulmama.soup.io

3. Grigris

In this 2013 film, Actor Souleymane Deme depicts a young man with dreams of becoming a dancer despite his paralyzed leg. Photo: www.marieclaire.fr Photo: www.marieclaire.fr 4. Yelling to the Sky Watch Zoe Kravitz's performance in this 2011 film about a teen caught between her dreams and life's harsh realities. Photo: blackfilm.com Photo: blackfilm.com

5. Pariah

Check out Adepero Oduye's critically-acclaimed performance as a teen from the Bronx figuring out how to navigate her identity while keeping it hidden from her religious family. Photo: accessatlanta.com Photo: accessatlanta.com

6. Medicine for Melancholy

Actors Wyatt Cenac and Tracey Heggins star in this 2008 romantic film that begs the question, 'What happens when two strangers with totally different philosophies on life try to coax a one-night-stand into a relationship?' Photo: mubi.com Photo: mubi.com

7. Lucky

A 10-year-old South African orphan trying to make it on his own in the city finds an unlikely ally in a no-nonsense Indian woman. indie films starring black actors Photo: filmmovement.com

8. Snow on Tha Bluff 

This 2011 film claims follows Curtis Blow, an Atlanta robber and drug dealer who steals a camera from some college kids and uses it to document his life. Photo: xxlmag.com

9. The Skinny

This 2012 film staring Jussie Smollett shows what happens when things get interesting amongst four college friends during Pride Weekend. indie films starring black actors Photo: whatsthetbmore.wordpress.com

10. Big Words 

See what kind of magic happens when three friends that once formed a promising hip-hop group come together on the occasion of Obama's 2008 presidential election win. Photo: nytimes.com Photo: nytimes.com

11. Ayanda and the Mechanic 

Jafta Mamabolo stars in this 2015 film about a 21-year-old Afro hipster embarking on a journey of self discovery. indie films starring black actors Photo: indiewire.com

What are your favorite indie films with black actors? Where can we watch them? Let us know in the comments below!

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