Home Entertainment The American Society Of Magical Negroes Official Poster

The American Society Of Magical Negroes Official Poster


Focus Features will release THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROESIn-Theaters Nationwide on Friday, March 15th

Written, directed, and produced by Kobi Libii (Koe-bee Luh-BEE) alongside producers Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman and Angel Lopez, THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES is a fresh, satirical comedy inspired by the “magical negro” cinematic trope popularized in American cinema and television throughout the 20th Century and first named and criticized by filmmaker Spike Lee. Flipping the trope on its head, THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES follows a young man, Aren, who is recruited into a secret society of magical Black people who dedicate their lives to a cause of utmost importance: making white people more comfortable. Although initially enamored with his new powers, Aren begins to question the value of using supernatural means to do the very thing he’s felt obligated to do his whole life.


The “Magical Negro” trope is a narrative device in which a Black, supporting character exists solely to serve a white protagonist’s storyline. They don’t have their own inner life but are relentlessly focused on helping white people learn, grow, or become less racist. Some have magical powers, but they all have a superhuman commitment to white, personal growth.

While it’s certainly not the only problematic stock character in movie history, the symbolism of the Magical Negro has always been particularly troubling to me: Black people only have worth inasmuch as we’re making a white protagonist’s life more colorful or meaningful; we don’t have value on our own. There’s a dark reflection of our society’s broader values here: Black lives don’t always matter. And while the trope itself is certainly worthy of criticism, the real question I’m interested in is what does living in a society that has those values do to you? What has it done to me?

The premise of the satire is pretty simple: “What if being a Magical Negro was a real job? What if your whole Black existence were consumed by prioritizing white people and white comfort? What if you just got up every morning, and focused on being the version of yourself that fit into a white world and served every white person’s ‘story?’”

Obviously, this is absurd; exaggerated to make the film a comedy. Obviously, this is not something we do. But if I’m honest. Really honest. More honest than I’m comfortable being: I relate to the Magical Negroes’ job description.

Because one thing this society taught me was to assimilate. Teachers encouraged me to code switch. I did. They controlled my grades and my future. My father taught me to be incredibly nice and non-threatening in any interaction with the police. He, having spent formative years in an America where lynchings still occurred, made the urgency of the matter harrowingly clear; don’t worry about your pride, just make the powerful white person comfortable.

Like a good A-student, I over-learned these lessons. And, for years, had internalized a relationship to white people that was too deferential. On some level, I believed this was necessary to stay alive.

This film is my attempt to process all of this. It’s a fantasy because strict reality can’t possibly reflect the creative, fantastical things Black people have to do to survive in America. It’s a comedy because the shame of this defense mechanism is so radioactive that I have to laugh to make an honest conversation about it bearable. And it’s a love story because, to me, being seen and appreciated by someone you love is the opposite of a society that tells you your life doesn’t matter.

  • Writer/Director: Kobi Libii
  • Producers: Julia Lebedev p.g.a., Eddie Vaisman p.g.a., Angel Lopez p.g.a., Kobi Libii p.g.a.     
  • Executive Producers: Mike Upton, Oren Moverman, Leonid Lebedev     
  • Cast: Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, An-Li Bogan, Drew Tarver, Michaela Watkins, Aisha Hinds, Tim Baltz with Rupert Friend and Nicole Byer 
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