Caprice Butts

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Vazquez, Laura

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Communication


Communication; African Americans--Study and teaching


This thesis will explore the history of Black women in television beginning with the start of Black women being on air and to the present. It will investigate the politics and education of Black women to tie into both the history of Oprah Winfrey and Shonda Rhimes to make connections on how these factors had an impact on their professional careers and storytelling and conclude that, while the background of television with Black women and individual lives of these two women have made differences in the world of Hollywood, there is still much that needs to be done. It will also discuss the importance of storytelling and representation in the media, not just on the screen, but behind the scenes. Even though there have been stories told about minorities, it is different from having them told by people who have lived the inequalities perpetuated in American society. Unless one has lived the actual experiences, they are portraying, it is hard or perhaps impossible to tell the story in a meaningful way. Having other Black women to tell stories about shared experiences is a way to relate, to know that someone else out there understands, and assure that they are getting the representation they deserve.


Advisors: Laura Vazquez.||Committee members: David J. Gunkel; Andrea L. Guzman.||Includes bibliographical references.


73 pages




Northern Illinois University

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