Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Black representation in the media, black love, stereotypes
Old Stereotypes Made New: A Textual Analysis on the Tragic Mulatto Stereotype in Contemporary Hollywood
Published: Nov 08, 2018 by Howard Journal of Communication
Authors: Brandale N. Mills
Subjects: Media and Cultural Studies
Using Black Feminist Thought and textual analysis, this study examined films directed by Black women examining the portrayals of biracial women, comparing those narratives with the characteristics of historic representations of the Tragic Mulatto. Although the biracial characters under sample exhibited qualities of the historic Tragic Mulatto, these depictions provided a more liberated perspective for representations of biracial women in Hollywood.
Howard Alumna Publishes Doctorate Research Examining Portrayals Of Black Women, Black Love In Hollywood Films
By: Brandale Mills Cox
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 19, 2019) — Howard University alumna Brandale Mills, Ph.D. released her first book titled “Black Women Filmmakers and Black Love on Screen.” The book examines representations of black women and portrayals of romantic love between black men and women in Hollywood films.
“This book serves as a good combination of analysis of the images we see represented in films and connecting those analyses to black identity and culture,” says Mills, who earned her doctorate in communication culture and media studies from Howard University in 2017. “Media research has suggested for years that representations in media impact and shape our reality, so if we're continuing to see dysfunctional relationships, what impact is that having?”
Inspired by black feminist, activist, and author Bell Hooks who posed that the images of love we see represented in mainstream media are largely rooted in a white male perspective, Mills’ research at Howard focused on films directed by black women to uncover their perspectives on what love is. Mills’ research looks at popular Hollywood films like “Love and Basketball,” “Cadillac Records,” “Love Don’t Cost A Thing,” “Beyond The Lights,” “Eve’s Bayou” and more.
“There are moments when you're working with a student that you can just feel the importance of their work,” says Tia C. M. Tyree, Ph.D., professor of strategic, legal and management communications who served as Mills’ dissertation advisor at Howard. “Investigating black women in Hollywood during this time is such a critical step in understanding what is happening in the world of media production and representation. Dr. Mills’ book explores the important work of groundbreaking women who are trailblazers in Hollywood, and the only thing more important than this, is the fact that she is tackling it through the lens of something we can all relate: love.”
Mills earned her bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico and master’s degree in mass communication and media studies from Howard University. She says she was eager to pursue studies at Howard for the cultural awareness she would gain and the ability to be in an environment that nurtured and supported bringing black perspectives to research.
“Being a black woman in America, I always had a sense of black power and pride,” says Mills. “Having peers with likeminded ideas, and professors who taught from a perspective that supported black ideology opened my eyes to understand how media works for minorities. Howard certainly helped shape my research agenda and my critical view of media in general.”
Mills’ book is a resource for media and film studies, but is also an asset to the general public. It offers a unique lens for scholars, students and pop culture critics to analyze media images and the impact they have on identity and relationship construction. Mills has a second book on the horizon that complements her existing research, providing an analysis of real women’s perspectives on how black women are represented in the media. “Black Women Filmmakers and Black Love on Screen” is available for purchase online by the publisher at https://www.routledge.com/.