Casting Black Athenas: Black Representation of Ancient Greek Goddesses in Modern Audiovisual Media and Beyond

Aimee Rachel Hinds Scott, Maciej Paprocki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focuses on Black representations of Greco-Roman goddesses in film and on television, exploring the historical and ideological conditions which have allowed audiences to react neutrally or favorably toward such representations. Adopting the transmedial perspective, the intersecting forces that have gradually disjointed conceptions of the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology in popular culture and imagination are considered. Such forces include nonspecialist understandings of ancient gender and its artistic interpretation, race versus colorism, and the commodity culture of cinema. Some portrayals of Black goddesses examined in this article appear in works imagineered or influenced by Disney: Hercules (1997 film, 1998–1999 animated series), The Little Mermaid (1989 film, 2008 Broadway musical) and Once Upon a Time (2011–2018 television series), whereas others appear in Syfy’s The Magicians (2015-2020 television series) and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson (2010 film and the upcoming television series). Casting Black women as Greek goddesses gradually weakens the conceptual entanglement between the Whiteness and the Greco-Roman divine, priming audiences to accept alternative representations of deities through cultural accretion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Popular Film and Television
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2023

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