The latest book in the BFI Compendium series, BLACK STAR is a lavishly illustrated 160-page volume published to coincide with the start of the BFI’s major UK-wide season celebrating the power, range and versatility of black actors.

The compendium features a range of new writing by contributors including Ashley Clark, programmer for the BLACK STAR season at BFI Southbank, Gaylene Gould, Mia Mask, The Guardian’s Syreeta McFaddyen and Steven W. Thrasher, poet Inua Ellams and novelist Kit De Waal.

Themes and actors explored include Black Masculinity and Stardom looking at actors such as Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman and Jamie Foxx; Black British Film Stardom from Earl Cameron and Lenny Henry to Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Sophie Okonedo; Black Women in Hollywood which looks at the compendium’s cover star Pam Grier alongside early trailblazers such as Hattie McDaniel and 90s leading ladies like Halle Berry and Angela Bassett; Hip Hop Film Stars such as Ice Cube, Queen Latifah and Tupac Shakur; Life in the Black Queer Firmament which celebrates stars such as Jaye Davidson; and Black Stars in the Age of Obama which counts down a top ten of current black stars making an impact from John Boyega and Ava DuVernay to Amandla Stenberg and President Obama himself.

Full list of chapters and contributors:

  • From Coon to Tycoon: The Black Comedian – by Nelson Abbey
  • The Jazz Cleopatra – by Karen Alexander
  • Missing Persons: Black ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girls’ – by Jan Asante and Zoe Whitley
  • Black Faces, White Spaces: Film Noir Stars – by Angelica Jade Bastién
  • Star People: Life in the Black Queer Firmament – by Jay Bernard African
  • Film Stars in Nollywood and Beyond – by Lizelle Bisschoff
  • Colour Balance: Black British Television Stars – by Stephen Bourne
  • Black British Musicians and Screen Stardom – by Dylan Cave
  • Burning Illusions: Black British Film Stardom – by Ashley Clark
  • Outside the Gates: The First Black Stars – by Ashley Clark
  • Beating Out the Rhythm – by Kit De Waal
  • Coming Back to America – A narrative poem by Inua Ellans
  • Yes They Can: Black Stars in the Age of Obama – by Gaylene Gould
  • Reliving Legends: Black Star Biopics – by Simran Hans
  • Music Star. Movie Star. Super Star? – by Arthur Knight
  • Black Action Stars – by Ian Mantgani
  • Sisters Act: Black Women in Hollywood – by Mia
  • Mask Over That Line: Black Stars of US Television – by Syreeta McFaddyen
  • Dark and Lovely: Black Star Beauty – by Tega Okiti
  • Black Star Power – by Emilie Raymond
  • All Eyes on Them: Hip Hop Film Stars – by Jacqueline Springer
  • ‘No Denzel Here’: European Black Stars – by Fanta Sylla
  • Out of This World: Black Genre Stars – by Greg Tate
  • Who’s The Man? Black Masculinity and Stardom – by Steven W. Thrasher
  • The Problem of the Black Child Star – by Kelli Weston

The BFI BLACK STAR Compendium is edited by James Bell. It is the sixth book in the BFI’s highly-regarded ongoing Compendium series, which also includes 39 Steps to the Genius of Hitchcock, Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film, Electric Shadows: A Century of Chinese Cinema, Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder and LOVE.


The compendium is available now from the BFI Shop (RRP £18.99) and all good booksellers.