Unapologetically Black: A Conversation with Meagan Good presented by Shadow and Act

By Stephanie Ornelas

Meagan Good is breaking barriers. The actress joined Morgan Debaun, CEO of Blavity Inc. (Creators of Shadow & Act), in a candid conversation during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The two discussed making the leap to directing, what that meant for Good as a Black woman, and the obstacles she faced along the way. Good also discussed her recent projects — both on and off the camera — and how she was inspired to take on new roles outside of her comfort zone. 

When it came to being behind the camera, Good had the strength to handle a slew of obstacles that would come her way. At 19, she already knew she wanted to be a producer, and by 24, she had produced and directed a music video all on her own. 

But she explains that being a Black woman made it extremely difficult for her, as no one ever took her seriously, and she found herself having to teach herself.  

“When you’re a woman, people don’t take you seriously, and when you’re a Black woman people don’t take you seriously. They’d say, ‘just be an actress. Leave the biz stuff to the guys.’” 

So when her cousin, who had just finished working on Glee, asked her to produce a music video for him, she recommended “a guy who can direct it.” 

There was just one problem: he wasn’t available. And just like that, Good was directing her first music video. “I was terrified,” she says. “But once I started putting the pieces together, I instantly thought to myself, I know exactly what I’m doing.” 

Turns out Good did it quite well, and soon tons of industry professionals would inquire about working with her. 

Through this, she’s developed enough confidence to raise up more female writers and directors. Working closely with Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud initiative, she’s aiming to put Black women at the forefront of comedy with a new screenwriting fellowship program called “Women Write Now,” partnered with the Sundance Institute.  

Designed to champion the next generation of Black women in comedy, the new initiative focuses on providing one-on-one mentorship opportunities to Black women screenwriters, as well as the funding to develop and produce those projects and a platform to exhibit them. This initiative recently supported the film Black Karen directed by Danielle Nicolet and starring Bresha Webb. 

“Black women have stories to tell,” says Good. “We need to have opportunities, not just for acting, but we need opportunities for Black women in all areas. And writing is an area where we haven’t gotten as much exposure or support,” Good stressed.  

“I fell in love with Harlem, and I fell in love with Camille,” Good says about her recent role in the comedy series available on Amazon Prime. “I love the show because it’s unapologetically Black. We had a chance to show things we never get to talk about. And [Camille] is a type of character I haven’t been able to play. She’s similar to me. I’m a little offbeat,” she laughs.  

Good explains how initially she wasn’t sure she would get the part. No one had seen her play a role like this before. 

“TV for me is always scary because it’s such a huge commitment. I like being a nomad and not knowing what character I’m going to play next,” she says. “When I decide to take a role on TV it’s because I made the decision that if I end up living in this space for years, I’m going to be really happy here. And that’s what Harlem is to me. It represents, not just sisterhood on the show but sisterhood behind the scenes,” she explains.

Today, she’s directed a number of music videos for artists like Adrienne Bailon and Diarra Sylla, as well as a short film, and, more recently, her first feature film alongside writer Tamara Bass, which can be found on Apple TV+. 

And for actors wanting to make the switch to the director’s chair but are still unsure, Good had some pretty insightful advice: 

“Put one foot in front of the other and ask a lot of questions,” she says. “More importantly, trust your instincts because nobody else has them. What you bring is unique and special and only you can bring it. Even if you don’t have a lot of help or support starting out, it will bring itself full circle and you will blow your own mind.”