Jessie Woo at BuzzFeed's

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From music to the big screen, the representation of Black folks is going through a metamorphosis in Hollywood.

On this episode of Listen to Black Women, “The New Black Hollywood,” co-hosts Taryn Finley, Tiffany Nicole Ervin and Jessie Woo welcome musician Kris Kasanova aka Kas, to talk about how the current entertainment landscape is changing (or rather, isn’t).

The “Oh Lord” songwriter names his mother as one of his top influences in his music career and loves to receive input from women in his life on his work, making him the perfect guest for this episode. Kas has worked with the likes of Eric Bellinger and SZA. As a Gemini, the artist says his sound changes with his mood, but he promises, “I’m always gonna provide the vibe.”

Together, the LTBW cast talks about how Hollywood is still dragging behind in representation. They discuss the negative impacts of the strong Black woman stereotype still prevalent in TV shows and films and that they’d love to see more diverse, multi-faceted roles. “We could be nerds, we could be introverts, we could be antisocial,” says Ervin. The ladies agree they’d love to see the softer and goofier sides of women depicted on screen.

Kris Kasanova In Concert - New York, NY and on the rise in Hollywood

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Role appropriation comes up, too, and the question of whether every good actor can – or should – play any role. The LTBW crew agrees that they shouldn’t, referencing Zoe Saldana’s offensive portrayal of Nina Simone, in which she has been criticized for donning blackface. Plus, Woo touches on how social media influences Hollywood executives’ decisions on portraying women – even if it shouldn’t. Hashtags attached to stereotypes tend to go viral, says the influencer, but she adds that entertainment execs are responsible for protesting that – rather than perpetuating it.

So, is there multi-dimensional, honest and progressive representation in entertainment?

“I still think that we have a good ways to go,” asserts Kas.

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