Our 10 Favorite Manic Pixie Free Black Girls » VSB

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Our 10 Favorite Manic Pixie Free Black Girls

Even before it was given an actual title, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl has long been one of the most popular — and most critically debated — stock film characters. Originally coined by Nathan Rabin, it’s defined as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Basically, think of every character Zooey Deschanel has ever played.

As ubiquitous as this character type is, though, it doesn’t seem to include Black women. More specifically, when this character is spoken of and/or cited, White women are named almost exclusively. Wiki lists 17 cinematic examples of them; Jamie Loftus at BDCWire lists 15; The AV Club 16; and Flavorwire…too many to count. Dozens of binders full of quirky, awkward, and super cute White women. And no Black women. Because while Black women can be strong and sexy and strong and sultry and strong and strong, they apparently can’t be sweet and silly and fun and girly and cute and free.

But we know that’s bullshit. Because we know these women, these “Free Black Girls” who are a bit quirkier, a bit stranger, a bit more eccentric, and a bit more idiosyncratic than most. Who exist outside the usual sphere of expectation for “how Black women should be” and seem to live unconstrained. Who were natural before being natural was cool. Who will shade and side eye you for speaking recklessly…and then have a very serious conversation with a squirrel. Who own so much property in Gives-No-Fucks-Ville that they’re leasing land to other people. Who everyone — men and women; straight and gay — crushes on.

And while they do exist on screen, I prefer to cite some real life examples.

Lisa Bonet

lisa

Although she was labeled a wild child when younger, history will continue to look favorably on her. Mainly because she was the first to publicly acknowledge that Bill Cosby was full of shit.

Jill Scott

jill

And, speaking of the Cos, can we all agree to just collectively forget about everything Jill Scott has publicly said in the last year and a half? Is everyone with me on this?

Jada Pinkett Smith

jada again

We tend to forget that as, um, “interesting” are Jaden and Willow Smith are, they likely got most of their interestingness from their interesting-ass mother.

Rihanna

rihanna

Was recently elected Gives-No-Fucks-Ville’s Prime Minister of Negative Fucks Given. Congratulations, RiRi.

(Admittedly, is probably more of a “bad” girl than a “quirky” one, but the list needed to be stretched to 10. Plus, I really like that “Prime Minister” line.)

Janelle Monae

janelle

Will forever deserve placement on this list for incorporating “you cannot police me so get off my areola” in a radio-friendly pop song about stretching.

Lauryn Hill

lauryn

There was a five year stretch when L Boogie was both everyone’s pretend girlfriend and everyone’s pretend best friend.

And then she met a Marley.

And, well, let’s move on.

Solange

Currently fills three roles as everyone’s pretend girlfriend, everyone’s pretend best friend, and everyone’s pretend “down for whatever” homie who’s just a text away from coming through and landing a flying elbow on whoever’s beefing with you.

Kelis

kelis

Although “Milkshake” will likely be her most memorable contribution to our cultural zeitgeist, raise your hand if you didn’t say “Wait…who the hell is this??? And where can I meet her???” after watching the “Caught Out There” video the first time. And, if your hand is up, choke yourself, because you’re lying.

Cree Summer

cree

It’s unfortunate there’s an entire generation of young Black folks who only know Cree Summer because of Kanye’s line in “Spaceship.” Because every generation of young Black folks need to know about Cree Summer. Perhaps a flag with her face should replace every Confederate flag. I mean, she is a part of our heritage. And our ancestors fought and died to defend her. So why not?

#creesummerontheflag

Erykah Badu

erykah 1

Is the queen Manic Pixie Dream Free Black Girl. Feels like a fictional character, but actually exists in real life. And is also the anti-Marley, because guys date her and start making better decisions.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • KMN

    I think a lot of black kids today know Cree but don’t know that they know her…at least cartoon wise. She’s voiced so many characters and is in reruns all over the place…they know her…

    And this:

    “And is also the anti-Marley, because guys date her and start making better decisions”
    …had me DYING

    Great list…

    Edit: what about Zoe Kravitz? I think she should be on here too…

    • Damon Young

      i considered zoe, but she’s too young. the rest of these women have decades of freeness on her

      • Zoe has a few more years before she can make the list…well at least for me

        • KMN

          definitely on her way though..

          • Damon Young

            you can put willow smith, amandla stenberg, and quvenzhané wallis on that future’s list too.

            • KMN

              YES! I’m really digging Amandla Stenberg…

              • KB

                Amandla Stenberg is #futuredaugthergoals

                • KMN

                  I hope my baby grows up to be like that…

            • amandla can go on now. i know she’s younger than zoe but she’s done a lot more calling out of ish in her 16 years. Zoe just looks cool i guess.

              • KMN

                yeah she has…she ain’t playing lol

      • KMN

        Got ya…ty

      • K Lust

        She went to the school of Lisa Bonet tho. Also, is Lenny a MPDB??

        • Manic Pixie Dream Boy sounds like the name of a jam band consisting of Frank Ocean, Donald Glover, Theophilus London, and the Weeknd.

          • Lea Thrace

            I would go to a concert featuring that band.

            I would end up throwing rocks at the Weekend tho. (Yes I left the e in there on purpose. I’m petty like that.)

            • I’d end up wanting to jump one of them after the show and I’m not even that guy.

          • Can I say I’d like to listen to an album from those 4 together?

      • Tristan

        She has an album out….and yeah, she her mama child

    • Nick Peters

      Zoe didn’t know she was black until 2013

      • KMN

        yeah I was just reading that article a couple of days ago…but she’s a Hollywood kid…it doesn’t surprise me…

  • Not sure if this list in order or not be Cree and Lisa could both hold that number one spot. When I was younger I couldn’t actually verbalize how I felt about either of them, but knew I loved them. I would still love a bottom less brunch with either of them.

    • Damon Young

      I would still love a bottom less brunch with either of them.

      TMI

  • oh one more thing, shout out to my fellow natural chicks on this list that were natural before it became a “thing”. When I first cut out my relaxer folks asked me if I was getting chemotherapy. Now “the big chop” has a name and twitter hashtag.

    • KMN

      THIS!!! I got so much shade and hate when I big chopped the first time about 15 years ago…I’m so glad girls today have a support group EVERYWHERE

      • girl. you feel my pain. I did it in 1999 so you KNOW!!!

        • KMN

          2000 for me!! I swear it was the best decision of my life even if my mother threatened to disown me lmao

          • lol…agreed

            • celinad6

              2001 for me. I had my locs in a tight low ponytail one day. My grandmother almost caught the holy spirit when she thought I had gotten rid of them.

              • I thought about locs around that time (2001). I was still all up on relaxers and whatnot, but I had fallen in love with the show Soul Food. I thought Vanessa Williams’ locs were so beautiful on that series! I just didn’t have the courage to do it (plus, I ain’t wanna hear my momma and her comments if I started trying to loc my hair).

                But yeah.

                • LadyIbaka

                  There are levels to locking hair. Lawd knows before them shids lock, you stay looking like a felon. Of course yes, you make frequent trips to the loctician, but….

                  • Yeah, and I KNEW I wouldn’t have been able to handle that beginning stage.

                    • Cleojonz

                      Eventually I would like to loc. I know I can’t handle that beginning stage though, so it will be with loc extensions!

                    • LadyIbaka

                      You are going to sit down for ALL those hours?!?

                    • Cleojonz

                      Now that you mention it like that, maybe not. It’s the reason I don’t do African hair braiding anymore. I have no patience for it whatsoever, not to mention I’d like to keep my edges.

                    • LadyIbaka

                      Let your hair grow a little bit more then lock it….Not to mention extensions are expensive, because of how arduous a task it is.

                    • AlwaysCC

                      this is my 2nd go round of locs and i fight myself daily to prevent just cutting my hair back off again. i hate this awkward in between stage! not long enough for a ponytail, not short enough to wear fuzzy…

                  • lmao at looking like felon.

                  • celinad6

                    Right! I was in 11th grade when I started mine. Talk about a rough 4-5 months! I had to start wearing earrings at that point.

                • CozyVon

                  Vanessa was actually one of the ones who inspired me to loc my hair back in the early/mid 90s, when I saw her do poetry @ Brooklyn Moon…ran into her on the street years later & I told her so…she was mad cool…she was like, “And look at your locs now, all casca-dadin’ down your back…” LOL (Recently took them out after them being my “hair bae” for 2 decades ;-)

      • One of my aunts cut her hair super duper low in ’91 (like lower than Toni Braxton’s hair in the “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” era), and my mom was like, “Say what nah?” My aunt has been rocking that low cut for 20+ years now.

        • K Lust

          That’s how I’m trying to be! 6 years strong now.

          • Cleojonz

            I cut my hair off again 6 years ago as well. Not going back to creamy crack this time. I alternate between cutting it practically bald and growing out an afro. I have smedium fro now, but it’s summer so the cut is calling me again!

            • K Lust

              Cut it cut it cut it!! I just cut mine last night. I try to do it every two weeks.

              • Cleojonz

                I don’t know! I’m so torn, I like the length of the fro now, awkward phase is over. It looks really cute with a flower in it lol.

                • LadyIbaka

                  Let it blossom I say!!

          • Yeah, my aunt is like you couldn’t pay her any money to grow her hair out now.

            • K Lust

              Lol seriously. I grew it back once. That lasted a month. All that combing and greasing and oil treatments. Too much work.

    • Cleojonz

      I wouldn’t have called my cut a big chop then because I went back to a relaxer after, but I cut my hair really short in about 1999. Nobody said anything weird to my face but I’d hear that folks asked why is her so short behind my back. And black folks always get upset when you cut long hair anyway.

      • That’s another element. I got crazy looks because my hair was long when I cut it.

      • CozyVon

        Black folks have me CTFU with this long-hair obsession…u know we talked about how even amongst naturals u can’t flick a drop of Jamaican black castor oil without hitting a “How to Grow Your 4C Hair Long” video, LOL…and never mind if half of that long hair is see-through from split ends–it matters to black people!!!

    • K Lust

      “When I first cut out my relaxer folks asked me if I was getting chemotherapy.”

      Oh, that’s still happening now. I cut my hair off like Britney Spears in 2009.
      I remember having a lengthy conversation with a woman who was trying to tell me how to get free cancer treatment. I was like o__0

      • lmao. I cant….
        But if that’s still happening now that’s so feaking crazy. I gave folks a semi pass 15 years ago because it was still rather new ( esp for the small southern city I where I went to college). NOW , esp in NY folks would get the major side-eye

      • Delia

        Damn, there’s a black market for chemo too??? smh…I almost choked laughing when I read that part.

    • camilleblu

      When I first cut out my relaxer folks asked me if I was getting chemotherapy

      I’m so sorry, but this made me laugh out loud…smh

      • its ok. I laugh now too when I think about it

        • AlwaysCC

          a couple of times i may or may not have created a tear and implied that i was and made them feel like isht (God was really working on me back then)

      • Cleojonz

        I know, what what make somebody fix their mouth to ask a question like that. That’s what makes it so funny.

        • CozyVon

          You’d be surprised at how shameless & non-thinking some idiots are with their questions, SMH…

    • Siante

      I was teased mercilessly for being natural (before it was cool) mostly by other black women: I got side eyes, whispers, the usual shade & then some smh- the thing is those same women would get super in they feelings when I’d pull the dude they wanted w/ my hair still “nappy” ^_^

      • Girl YES. Oh the whispers. Was she gay? And I don’t eat pork so OF COURSE that meant I had to be Muslim. Isnt it funny how those same girls want tips and are full of compliments now? I take the compliments and give the tips freely.

        • Siante

          I got the Muslim one too!!! I messed around & wore a black headwrap to work (on a bad hair day) so I brought that one on myself lol -& I love your attitude, cuz u could easily be like “bish, watch your own Youtube videos!” or “bish, how ’bout u google what a co-wash is?” lol- but nope- you’re sharing the wealth & spreading the self love among us sistas- I love it!

      • btw, I’m not a crazy stalker but I remember your pic and name. The last time we exchanged comments you said you were going to join the wonderful world of black twitter. How do you like it so far?

        • Siante

          and about that twitter account……I recently graduated from a “lurker” & am now a full blown commenter so I am taking babysteps into this world of social media—- as soon as I sit still long enough to get about my twitter life, I will do a shameless plug for all of VSB to see :-)

          • Oh girl shameless plugs are so damn wack. Sometimes I tweet about how wack they are @msshanitarenee ;-) lol

            • Siante

              love it! lml

      • Beauty In Truth

        Fk them jealous thots.

      • towninc

        yep still to this day people ask my mom what’s going on with me. silly rabbits

        • Siante

          girl, they just sound like they’re old school lol

    • Venita E. Griffin

      Yes. I went natural 23 yrs ago. Folks thought I’d gone insane.

    • AlwaysCC

      i call them new naturals cuz i’m #petty

      • lol…that’s cute…can I borrow that sometimes? For those days when Im on my old auntie vibe

        • AlwaysCC

          go ahead!

      • KMN

        #teampetty # staypetty

    • Beauty In Truth

      I did the “natural” thing way back in middle school (early 2000s) and had haters galore as if my natural texture was to never be seen in public! Gasp!!! Now them same girls wish they could have a % of the natural hair I have. SMH…

  • I don’t think there’s a Black MPDG in large part because they don’t write Black boys/men as counterparts like they do with white boys/men. That being said, I still love most of the women on the list even though my love for Cree Summer has waned considerably because after rewatching most of A Different World, I realize now that I hate that character fiercely and intensely. Lisa Bonet is ethereal bae. She will forever be a goddess. Just the very thought of her is overwhelming.

    Kelis will always be the loud screaming chick with the hair. I wish she never left The Neptunes production behind (even though Food is a legit good album).

    • K Lust

      What about Lenny Kravitz? Andre 3000? Even Kanye ( I’m reaching, but he has manic going for him)? They have some manic pixie dream in them, no?

      • Nope. Neitherwere doe-eyes men that had their world awoken by a woman.

      • LadyIbaka

        Kanye is no quirky maniac. He is just maniac like in the real sense.

    • IsitFridayyet?

      “That being said, I still love most of the women on the list even though my love for Cree Summer has waned considerably because after rewatching most of A Different World, I realize now that I hate that character fiercely and intensely”

      Next to Whitley Gilbert/Dwayne Wayne, Freddie Brooks was the best thing that happened to A Different World.

      • Cleojonz

        I agree! I LOVED Freddie Brooks!

      • Vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/tagged/a-different-world

        • IsitFridayyet?

          Interesting perspective

        • Siante

          where’d you get the Snoopy sweatshirt?

          • Uniqlo

            • Siante

              Thank you :-) Snoopy is #bae, lol

    • Medium Meech

      Drew Tate from the Inkwell

      • brothaskeeper

        Can we call Larenz Tate one of the top 20 most versatile actors across the board? He’s the Black Leo DiCaprio…just a year before being emo in The Inkwell he was murking everything moving in Menace II Society…

        • MysteryMeat

          I always said that. Dude is versatile like a mug

    • LadyIbaka

      Nothing overwhelming about Lisa. Her character though was baetastic on Cosby and deeper than the valleys in Tibet.

      • You wouldn’t understand.

    • LoneStarNot

      Surely, Foxxy Love counts for something, right?

    • towninc

      Food was a really good album

  • Agatha Guilluame

    We could make a list just like this made up of just VSSs.

    I submit Rachmo.

    • And I’ll throw in VSB OG Yoles.

      • Agatha Guilluame

        Rachmo (pictured below). Who else?

        • cakes_and_pies

          I see a fellow Rattler in this pic. Small world.

          • Agatha Guilluame

            Rattler?

            • Someone who went to FAMU

              • Agatha Guilluame

                Oh.

            • cakes_and_pies

              FA-MU, FA-MU , FAM-GOT-DAMN-U ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT!!!
              HBCU on the highest of 7 hills in Tallahassee, FL

        • Val

          A Rach sighting! Awww, I miss her. Sigh.

          • Agatha Guilluame

            I think if you say her name 3 times she’ll appear. Go ahead. Try it.

            • Val

              I tried that a few weeks ago and it didn’t work. I even clicked my heels together. :-(

              • Agatha Guilluame

                Smh. She always was a stubborn little b!t@h.

    • Where she at?

      • Agatha Guilluame

        *shrugs*

      • Val

        Behind that preposition.

        Sorry, couldn’t resist. :-)

    • Whats a VSS?

    • Lea Thrace

      Bunni. Sweet little Bunni who has been missing for too long.

      Also seconding Yoles!

      And cant forget resident shorty Dara.

      • She’s flying around the world.

        • Lea Thrace

          They have wifi on them delta planes! No excuses. :-D

      • Im all up in your convo but have no idea who you all are talking about lol.

        • Lea Thrace

          Bunni is a VSB OG.

  • Jada Pinkett Smith and Erykah Badu are both Queens of this list. Jada for being the patron saint of Black Perverts everywhere, and Erykah Badu for that Badu Box. It’s like Erykah Badu’s Box could make the Knicks better somehow. Will someone introduce Badu to Porzingis? Thank you.

    Zoe Kravitz and Rihanna are going to be the heirs apparent. Rihanna is a bit too hard to be the full MPDG type. She’d have to assimilate more to get it.

    But Malik had a point though. Blacken aren’t allowed to be soulful brooding codependent idiots because we’re expected to be strong all the time to make up for all that racism. Hmmm… You’ve put a thought on my brain Champ. Much appreciated.

    • ” It’s like Erykah Badu’s Box could make the Knicks better somehow.”

      It’s a vagina not an Infinity Stone, Todd.

      • Look, I just want James Dolan dead. He scares off anyone with sense on the basketball side.

        • A bad owner meeting his end is not the end all be all to a teams bad run of luck. As owners go he is horrible though.

        • James Dolan is Pharaoh.

          https://i.imgflip.com/oc2xa.jpg

          • KMN

            I had to upvote this because this is my favorite movie for some reason lmao…

      • I’m glad you didn’t say NBA Champions…I don’t think Erykah Badu + Pam Grier’s combined powers could achieve such a thing.

      • NomadaNare

        Funniest comment I’ve read in a long time.

      • LMAOOOOOOOO

    • miss t-lee

      Y’all musta missed Lenny Kravitz, Bilal, Van Hunt and nem.

      • None of them qualify. Maybe Dwayne in A Different World if he dated Ms Bonet’s character. That’s the only one that comes to mind.

        • miss t-lee

          No

      • Siante

        don’t forget Devonte Hynes

        • miss t-lee

          Had to google him, but yeah…I think so.

      • LadyIbaka

        Bilal!!!!!! Think it over is my favoritest song of his. It reminds me of my dusty village in the dusk…

        • miss t-lee

          A great song. I love mostly everything by him.
          My new favorite by him is “Butterfly”.

          • LadyIbaka

            I’ll take a listen to it, then report back. Let me downlooarr it on spotify right now

          • Cleojonz

            Does he have a new record? I used to kill first born second. I saw him when he was touring with Common on Prince’s tour. He sounds amazing live.

            • miss t-lee

              Actually yes.
              Butterfly was on his last album called “A Love Surreal”, but he has a new one that dropped last month which is “In Another LIfe”.

      • towninc

        and the prototype guy

        • miss t-lee

          Good point!

    • Agatha Guilluame

      Yeah Rihanna should definitely not be on this list. She’s not “quirky” and “awkward” and “eccentric” and “natural”. She’s West Indian.

      • Yes.

      • Rihanna may have made the most Bajan song ever with BBHMM. Only a Bajan would do a video about kidnapping and torturing her accountants wife before getting the accountant and killing him slow with knives because he might could have stole some money. That is pure Bajan. More Bajan than a plate of flying fish and coo Coo with rum punch to drink.

    • Epsilonicus

      Is the Smith relationship really an open one? There is all rumor and no evidence

  • Bobbi O.

    Thank you for acknowledging my tribe!

  • Speck of Dust

    *speaking of Erykah Badu* “…because guys date her…” Uhm… Where do I sign?

    • Just be a brilliant artist.

      • I want her to date Kevin Gates.

        • miss t-lee

          This would be awesome.

          • Brass Tacks

            In what world?

            • miss t-lee

              In every world…lol

        • Leigh

          Please no!!! The world is not ready ready. Kevin Gates can’t handle the Baduizm. Hmm…maybe he can. He did say that he don’t get tired.

          • miss t-lee

            See…this is what I’m talking bout…lol

            • Epsilonicus

              I am all for it.

      • Speck of Dust

        Sounds easy enough.

      • Tristan

        She held Kendricks hand and he been growing them dread plait things since….that Baduizm too skrong

  • Vanity in Peril

    This list reminds me of when I was younger, pouring through the pages of Nelson George’s Buppies, B-Boys, BAPS & Bohos and realizing I was destined to be a Boho. To this day, I am the epitome of that girl but b4 that book I had no idea being that girl was even an option.

  • miss t-lee

    Nah…as much I love Jill,I’m not ready to forget any of that nonsense she was spouting.

    The rest of the list though? All love! Especially Solange and Erykah, since they’re sista Texas girls.

    • I just think Jill may be a talent, fine affable loon at times. Not manic pixie.

      • Tristan

        Jill Scott is very throwback in her line of thinking, i never considered her different

        • Yeah, she’s low key old school if you pay attention.

    • Damon Young

      i’m gonna blame jill’s metabolism. or something

      • miss t-lee

        You’re nicer than I am…lol

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