Skip to content

Netflix's 'Strong Black Leads' Recreate Classic 'A Great Day In Harlem' Photo

Netflix's 'Strong Black Leads' Recreate Classic 'A Great Day In Harlem' Photo

 Photo by: Kwaku Alston

In a powerful new TV spot from Netflix, 47 Black actors, writers, directors, producers and show-runners came together to recreate Art Kane’s 1958 photo "A Great Day in Harlem, an iconic image of 57 jazz legends. The project, called "A Great Day In Hollywood" is a part of the streaming giant's "Strong Black Leads" initiative, which is led by the company's Black executives. 

In it, "Stranger Things" star Caleb McLaughlin takes on the role of narrator as the camera pans to trailblazers like Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Lena Waithe, and more Black talent from 20-plus Netflix Original films, shows, and documentaries. Creatives flew from all parts of the world to be a part of a one-day project that shows that Black representation in Hollywood is here to stay. 

“A Day for our generation to see untold experiences of our Blackness,” McLaughlin proudly stated in the commercial. "A day when Black women are boldly the lead character, whether inmates or scholars. We’re not a genre because there’s no one way to be Black."

Maya Watson Banks, Netflix’s Director of Brand & Editorial for the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, said the original photo "had this combination of famous jazz musicians and names you ended up getting to know later, but it was like this beautiful spectrum. So we were trying to create the same thing. We have talent on the service that you know really well, but we also have people that you might not know yet, but you’re going to get to know them. So showing the spectrum and the tapestry of all the different types of Black people and Black stories that we have is what we wanted to do."

Photo by: Art Kane 

Shot in early June, the spot was directed by Lacey Duke, who said of the shoot: "It was a pretty magical couple of hours. All these amazingly talented, beautiful individuals in one space being supportive and just looking stunning together, all here to pull off this one take wonder." 

She added: "Alfre Woodard even led everyone in an epic rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before we started shooting. It was beautiful, and in a flash it was over. It was probably the most overwhelming two hours of my career. I was just so happy to be a part of history."

Photo courtesy of Netflix

"We're writing while Black; nuanced and complex, resilient and strong," declared McLaughlin in the commercial. "This is not a moment; this is a movement. We are strong Black leads. Today is a great day in Hollywood."

Check out the powerful spot below.