Black History Month: Black Women Making Moves Behind the Scenes

Writer and producer Quinta Brunson, stunt woman Lafaye Baker and filmmaker Christine Swanson are among the black women who are making magic behind the scenes in Hollywood. (Photo: XFINITY)

The Academy Awards airs in just a few days, and if all goes well, #OscarsSoWhite will be a thing of the past.

This year, Viola Davis, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali are among the record-tying number of black actor nominees, along with Ruth Negga, Denzel Washington and Octavia Spencer.


It’s also looking pretty great behind the camera as Barry Jenkins is nominated for best director for “Moonlight,” which is also up for best movie, and with the nomination of Ava DuVernay and three other black directors—Ezra Edelman, Raoul Peck and Roger Ross Williams—for their documentaries.


Regardless of what happens Sunday night, it’s important to recognize these successes along with those of lesser-known individuals working behind the scenes in la-la land. That is why XFINITY is honoring many of the female faces behind the magic as part of our Black History Month celebration. We are featuring interviews throughout February with black women whose own form of #BlackGirlMagic help add more pizzazz to your favorite films, TV shows and online content.


Take a look at some of these dynamic women below and share their stories via social media using the hashtags #BlackHistoryAlwaysOn and #XFINITYBHM.

WATCH: Behind the Lens in Hollywood


Quinta Brunson

It didn’t take Quinta Brunson very long to figure out that if what you want doesn’t exist, create it. This mindset led Brunson, a video content producer for Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, to create her hilarious Instagram series “The Girl Who’s Never Been on a Nice Date.” That series’ success led the Philadelphia native to sell series to YouTube and Verizon. “Broke,” which Brunson wrote and starred in, debuted last fall on YouTube and is about a woman who rooms with two male friends after college.

“Fiction is fun—it’s great—but I think there’s so much value in telling the true stories of what’s happening right now. To me those are little pieces of history that are being left for the future,” said Brunson, a Second City alum who grew up “appreciating the beauty of shareable content.”

Learn more about Brunson’s experiences when you watch her interview below.

WATCH: Quinta Brunson Interview


Lafaye Baker

Lafaye Baker never intended to be a stunt woman and stunt coordinator, but she’s glad she stumbled into the business. Since being bitten by the bug, Baker has accrued more than 135 film and TV credits, including “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” and “Green Lantern.”

“There are more roles behind the scenes than there are in front of the camera. Only so many people can be a Jennifer Lopez, Angela Bassett or Halle Berry,” Baker said.

Watch Baker’s interview below to learn more about her endeavors including her nonprofit, Diamond in the Raw, which helps young women become introduced to the arts.

WATCH: Lafaye Baker Interview


Christine Swanson

In undergrad, filmmaker Christine Swanson envisioned herself working in finance, but a campus visit by Spike Lee changed all of that. Swanson, whose credits include “Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story,” “For the Love of Ruth” and “To Hell and Back,” said she never knew someone could make a living making films before Lee’s visit to the University of Notre Dame more than 20 years ago.

“I’m one of Spike Lee’s kids. There’s, like, a whole generation of us who were inspired and moved to be filmmakers because of Spike Lee,” said Swanson, whose filmmaker husband was also inspired by the same Lee visit.

Check out Swanson’s interview below to learn how her “womanhood and blackness” infuse her storytelling.

WATCH: Christine Swanson Interview


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