Home Is the First 3D Animated Film Starring A Black Character

Illustration for article titled Home Is the First 3D Animated Film Starring A Black Character

Zak Cheney-Rice at Policy Mic puts it simply: "Not one major Hollywood studio has released a 3D animated feature starring a black character." That's about to change with Home, a new DreamWorks Animation film hitting theaters in November.


DreamWorks Animation has released twenty-eight movies, including Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, Megamind, Mr. Peabody and Sherman and The Croods. This is the first to have a black girl as the protagonist. Inkoo Kang at Women And Hollywood notes that the last time a DreamWorks Animation film had a human protagonist of color was in 1998, with The Prince of Egypt. She adds that it's "only the studio's second female protagonist after Monsters vs. Aliens (its third if we're counting The Croods)."

Over at Shadow and Act, Tambay A. Obenson writes that the flick "is based on Adam Rex's children's book The True Meaning of Smekday, and stars Rihanna (providing the voice for the starring character — an enterprising girl named Tip), Jennifer Lopez, Jim Parsons, and Steve Martin." The synopsis:

When Earth is taken over by the overly-confident Boov, an alien race in search of a new place to call home, all humans are promptly relocated, while the Boov get busy efficiently reorganizing the planet. But when one resourceful girl, Tip, (Rihanna) manages to avoid capture, she finds herself the accidental accomplice of a banished Boov by the name of Oh (Jim Parsons). Equally stubborn and set in their ways, these two fugitives realize there's a lot more at stake than intergalactic relations as they embark on the road trip of a lifetime. Good thing they have a flying car.

There's very little information beyond the photo above and a short "prequel" clip, below, which focuses on the aliens before they get to Earth (no humans are in it). We'll have to wait and see if audiences flocking to Frozen will show up for Home.



I like that this a "non-cultural" movie and it stars a black girl. Meaning: usually, when a PoC stars in main cartoon roles, it's to tell a story related to their culture. Mulan, Princess and the Frog, Aladdin, Prince of Egypt, what have you, were all taking place in each of those respective cultural settings and so they "had" to be black/Asian/brown.

They have culture-specific movies with white protagonists too, like 'Brave' for le Irish, but when it's a movie that has a more universal theme, the protagonist tends to be white. Up, Toy Story, The Incredibles, etc., are non-culture-based movies, and if *only* those are produced, it feeds the trope of "the default relatable American/American family is white." This is challenging it — saying that PoC are not only useful in their cultural settings, but doin' everyday American kid stuff' too. Because they're Americans, too (Watch this take place in England and have Rihanna fake an English accent now that I've said that)!

It's not only important for black kids to be able to see representations of themselves on screen, but for non-black kids to make connections with black characters on screen, thus not thinking of them as some "other", exotic group.