How BET's 'Rebel' Is Reshaping The Narrative For Black Women In Hollywood

Portraying the role of Rebecca “Rebel” Knight in BET’s “Rebel” was like a dream come true for actress Danielle Moné Truitt.

Created by John Singleton, the crime drama series stars Truitt, Giancarlo Esposito, Mykelti Williamson, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, LaTanya Richardson and follows a army veteran-turned-Oakland police officer (Rebel) who leaves the force after being under an Internal Affairs-criminal investigation for shooting her patrol partner in an effort to prevent him from gunning down her younger brother.

As she continues her mission to fight crime as a private investigator, Rebel struggles to cope with her brother’s death, while protecting herself against cops who are seeking revenge.

Aside from her longtime admiration of Singleton’s expansive list of film credits, Truitt tells HuffPost that she was immediately intrigued by the nuances of the starring role.

“As a black woman in entertainment and acting, there’s not a lot of roles for us,” she said during an interview with The Huffington Post. “And sometimes with the roles, they’re not multi-layered. They don’t have depth. They don’t allow us to show different sides of our personalities as black women and different aspects of our talent as black artists.”

“So I just feel like this role was like a dream. I get to do action, and kick butt,” she continued. “I get to be vulnerable and sexy. I get to be emotional and loving. There’s just so many different aspects to the character and a lot of that is explored as the series continues.”

Exploring an empowering and revolutionary character that resonated with viewers was very necessary, according to Singleton. To that notion, the Academy Award nominated-director says his ultimate goal in developing the series was as a result of what he describes as a void in the displaying of heroic black women on television.

“Rebel is a character that you follow and see what she does, and how she emotionally handles things,” Singleton told HuffPost. “We haven’t seen a heroic black woman [on television] in a very long time. And I just felt like, let me just try to make it real, but at the same time make it a heroic film character, but make it real. There’s a whole other thing to Rebel, when you talk about what the experience of black women in America is.”

“She’s an army veteran, and she’s a detective and then things happen and then she ends up not wanting to be a part of this whole system that she’s already been a part of. So it’s a different element for a character, because it’s one thing to be a rebel and not really be a part of the system, but to be apart of the system and then rebel against it is a whole other thing.”

Prior to her most recent multi-dimensional role on a network series, Truitt was active in addressing the misuse of police force by producing an open discussion and performance event called #MoreThanAHashtag.

In the future she plans to amplify her influence around issues affecting the African American community by pursuing additional progressive roles, as well as developing a forthcoming film titled, “Unsound” ― which chronicles a woman suffering from mental issues and multiple personality disorder.

“I wanna make characters that are real and that people can really connect with,” she said. “And it’s not always about, black people looking good – to me that is not going to do us any good in the world, because the truth of the matter is, everyone is flawed and going through stuff. And that is what people connect to. People don’t connect to your perfection, they connect to the drama because we all have it prevalent in our lives.”

She went on to add, “I just wanna bring forth characters that are fully developed and I do wanna talk about issues that are kind’ve shied away from, and then also stories that uplift.”

“Rebel” airs Tuesday’s at 10pm/9pmC on BET.

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Source: HuffPost Black Voices

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