10 Movies That Celebrate Black Joy to Stream on Juneteenth

From “Girls Trip” and “Black Is King” to “Barbershop”


Juneteenth is a time to celebrate the joy of the Black experience as much as the struggle. And TheWrap’s got a curated list of films to get the celebration started.

From a charming fairytale adaptation to Pixar’s first film to feature an African American protagonist to a love story centering on two Black leads in 1960s, Black joy on screen can be found in just some of these triumphant flicks.

In addition to checking out some of the more educational-related fare, like “13th” or “I Am Not Your Negro,” consider adding some of these joyful flicks to your streaming list.


“Soul” / Disney/Pixar

Streaming on Disney+

“Soul,” Pixar’s first film to feature an African American protagonist, follows Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher with dreams of becoming a jazz star. When Joe dies prematurely before receiving his big break, he gets a second chance at his fantasy when he accidentally enters the Great Before — a place that prepares unborn souls for real life. Not only does this film explore the intricacies of life and death, “Soul” features a predominantly Black voice cast, ranging from Jamie Foxx to Angela Bassett to Daveed Diggs.

Co-director and screenwriter Kemp Powers, who is also Pixar’s first Black writer-director, doesn’t view the film as a “Black” movie, but instead honors the universal story from the perspective of a Black man. “Joe could have been of any race — but if Joe was going to be a Black man it was really important that he feel authentically of that group. I didn’t want him to seem like a stereotypical character that was just painted black,” Kemp told TheWrap.

Black Is King


Streaming on Disney+

As a musical film and visual album written and directed by Beyoncé, “Black Is King” accompanies “Lion King: The Gift,” album curated by Beyoncé for the 2019 remake of “The Lion King.” The film follows Simba, represented as a young Black boy, but adds in layers of depth by drawing from traditional and contemporary elements of African culture.

Featuring numerous African and African American collaborators, including her daughter, Blue Ivy, Beyoncé weaves in Pan-African symbolism while remaining true to the plot. Although the directors had additional plans to shoot with Beyoncé in South Africa until the COVID-19 Pandemic prohibited them, “Black is King” is a triumphant masterpiece that celebrates divine Black joy.

One Night in Miami

One Night in Miami
Amazon Prime

Streaming on Prime Video

The Academy Award-nominated film tells the fictionalized account of Black icons Malcolm X, Cassius Clay (who later renamed himself Muhammad Ali), Jim Brown and Sam Cooke one night in 1964. While the dialogue and exact events are fictionalized, “One Night in Miami…” touches on pressing issues with these Black leaders debating how to move forward as the Civil Rights Movement advanced, including Malcolm’s challenges with Nation of Islam leadership, Clay’s impending conversion to Islam and Cooke’s struggle to use his platform to push the perception of the Black community forward. Directed by “Watchmen” star Regina King, “One Night in Miami…” celebrates Black leaders of the past and inspires those to come.



Streaming on Max

The 2002 comedy “Barbershop” was a massive hit upon release, spawning two sequels, and it holds up tremendously well. The film stars Ice Cube as a barbershop owner in Chicago who decides to sell his struggling business, only to change his mind after a day in the shop. He then works to try and reverse course as a cast of colorful characters comes in and out of the shop’s doors. The ensemble includes Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Ealy, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve and Keith David.

Sylvie’s Love

Nnamdi Asomugha and Tessa Thompson in "Sylvie's Love"
Nnamdi Asomugha and Tessa Thompson in “Sylvie’s Love” (CREDIT: Amazon Studios)

Streaming on Prime Video and Freevee

“Sylvie’s Love” offers a whimsical and old-fashioned love story centering on two Black leads in 1960s New York City. Writer and director Eugene Ashe’s refreshing take on this classic tale offers Black audiences the opportunity to see themselves in a time period and genre they aren’t usually reflected in. “We generally see (Black characters) only through the lens of the civil rights movement if we’re handling subject matter that deals with Black folks in the ’60s,” Ashe told theWrap. “So I just kind of wanted to do something a little different.”

Girls Trip

girls trip tiffany haddish

Streaming on Peacock

This uproarious comedy sees a group of pals reuniting for the trip of a lifetime. Hollywood veterans Regina Hall, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith guarantee a good time, but it’s Tiffany Haddish that steals the show in her star-making performance as Dina. The women’s chemistry is off the charts and the crazy scenarios more than pay off, earning “Girls Trip” a well-deserved spot in the annals of raunchy comedy history alongside “Bridesmaids” and “The Hangover.” The movie was both a critical and commercial smash, with critics applauding how rarely films focus on Black women in their 40s are, let alone ones this funny.

Cinderella (1997)

Rodgers and Hammerstein

Streaming on Disney+

Although this charming fairytale is typically best-remembered for its diverse cast, it should actually be remembered for being the best adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.” Brandy, hot off the success of her sitcom “Moesha,” stars as the titular heroine with Whitney Houston in the role of her Fairy Godmother. Everything about the film is magical, from the excellent musical numbers to the vibrant costumes to a heart that far outsizes its made-for-TV budget.

The Watermelon Woman

First Run Features

Streaming on Max, The Criterion Channel and Kanopy

With an impressive 100% Rotten Tomatoes score, you can’t go wrong with “The Watermelon Woman.” Part narrative feature, part documentary, the movie follows filmmaker Cheryl Dunye as she researches an obscure Black actress from the 1930s simply credited as “The Watermelon Woman.” Written and directed by Dunye, a queer Black woman, this flick is just as much about the love of film as it is about the importance of representation in film. One review likened the film’s plot progression to “the ecstasy of newfound romance.”

Waiting to Exhale

Everett Collection

Streaming on Hulu

This classic 1995 romantic comedy follows four Black women as they navigate the pitfalls of romance, family, career and everything in between. Directed by Forest Whitaker and starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett, “Waiting to Exhale” is a testament to the healing power of friendship. In addition to a highly-GIF’d scene of Bassett strutting away from a burning car, the movie also gave us a popular soundtrack written and produced by Baby Face.

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

Touchstone Pictures

Streaming on Disney+ and Tubi

Don’t listen to the critics, “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” is a “Joyful Joyful” gem, as the song goes. Whoopi Goldberg reprises her role of nightclub singer-turned-nun Sister Mary Clarence as she coaches a group of inner city youth to gospel choir greatness.The movie also features a young Lauryn Hill pre-Fugees and five years before her seminal album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” The music in this film is irresistible, with one glowing review stating that it could only have been made by people who “understand on an intuitive level why we sing in the first place.”


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