We don’t need young adult movies starring white women anymore
By Latonya Pennington
Since the success of the Harry Potter film franchise, young adult books adapted into films have become the norm. The film versions of Stephanie Myers ‘Twilight Saga and Suzanne Collins’ trilogy The Hunger Games have filled a need for teen films with stories of adventure, romance and coming of age. Recently, Lionsgate ad that they want to adapt more movies from The Hunger Games and Twilight books, but they could do so much better.
While there have been many YA movies over the years, almost all these movies were adapted from books written by white cis-het authors with white cis-het protagonists. If you didn’t know better, you’d think only white people write and read young adult books. Contrary to popular belief, young adult books and their audiences are far more diverse than the film industry realizes.
As a genre, Young Adult is generally considered to be a book featuring high school teens. Books like The Hunger Games Trilogy and The Twilight Saga make up a small percentage of books in the genre. With a little research, you will see that there are many more books that could be adapted, especially books written by and featuring women of color.
A book that has already been turned into movie is by Nicola Yoon Absolutely everything. The book’s teen romance could be compared to John Green’s book The fault of our stars, which also had a film adaptation. however, Absolutely everything is notable in that it was a financially successful film written, directed and performed by black women.
Lionsgate and other film companies should use Absolutely everything as a model for future films for young adults. Instead of another adaptation of a book about a white female protagonist, they should adapt more books featuring female protagonists of color and hire women of color to work behind the film.
One book that could delight Harry Potter fans is that of Daniel José Older Shadowform, which features an Afro-Latina protagonist wielding artistic magic. Meanwhile, Nalo Hopkinson’s book Chaos combines the dystopian and supernatural genres and gives us a black female role trying to save her brother.
By adapting books like these, Lionsgate could make the teen film genre more inclusive and fresh while still making a profit. Studies have proven that films with inclusive actors can make money, especially when they are also involved behind the scenes. In fact, it may even create anticipation for the film, as seen with Ava Du Vernay’s adaptation of A wrinkle in time and George Tillman Jr’s adaptation of The hate you give.
Not only have there been enough film adaptations of The hunger Games & dusk books, but there have also been enough young adult films with white female protagonists. If Lionsgate Wants To Make More Movies Then They Should Watch Women Of Color In Young Adult Books. It’s time for more teen movies with women of color who save the world and fall in love because women of color need teenage heroines too.
The selected image: Unification France, Creative Commons