Our 10 Favorite Manic Pixie Free Black Girls » VSB

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Our 10 Favorite Manic Pixie Free Black Girls

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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

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

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

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.


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

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

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.


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.


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

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?


Erykah Badu

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.

  • I don’t know about this “type”, but I am now proudly proclaiming myself as a manic pixie dream girl. That’s all folks. Kthxbye????????

  • I didn’t know about this “type”, but I am now proudly proclaiming myself as a manic pixie dream girl. That’s all folks. Kthxbye????????

    • Damon Young


      and welcome to 2005.

  • Vanity in Peril

    I want to marry Cree Summer. She was urry outside of the black girls box (hehe)’s hero in the nine nine to the two thousand.

    • Tristan

      Freddy toed the line from being adorable to annoying

      • Vanity in Peril

        Right, just like urry MPG

  • Can I get an honorable mention for Persia White?
    (From the cast of “Girlfriends”)

    • cakes_and_pies

      She got a nose job. Does that disqualify her?

    • Tristan

      Always felt like she was doing a Denise Huxtable impersonation

    • Damon Young

      i really don’t know anything about her, beside her being on girlfriends

      • Beauty In Truth


    • KMN

      I second that mention.she was always my second fav…Joan being my first (I’m still mad at BET for not giving her her damn wedding)…

    • Question

      Nah. Persia White always came off as unoriginal to me.

  • Val

    Willow Smith?

    • Aly

      See the list of future MPDGs Damon has outlined below.

      • Val

        Oh, okay, I just saw it. Thanks, Aly.

  • Tristan

    I wouldnt count Rihanna, she just doesnt give a f ck…theres nothing quirky about it tho

    • Damon Young

      list had to be stretched to 10

      • Tristan

        Aside from the whole burning a house down thing, Left Eye was pretty out there in her later years

        • RewindingtonMaximus


  • Wait aren’t Solange and Zoe the same age?

    • Tristan

      Solange might be 30 already

      • Apparently she’s only 28. Just two years older than Zoe.

        • Damon Young

          stop being a truth truther

        • Tristan

          She might be 28 the same way Beyonce was 28 like 3 times

  • IsitFridayyet?

    I almost want to add Tracee Ellis Ross to this list, but I don’t want her to leave my Awkward/Goofy Tribe.

    • Damon Young

      i thought about her.

    • LadyIbaka

      Definitely! I don’t even know what Rihanna is doing on that list.

    • towninc

      yes she was really playing herself on girlfriends

  • Agatha Guilluame

    Why not Raven Symone instead of Rihanna…is it cause she’s not black?

    • Damon Young

      is she anyone’s pretend best friend? aside from bill o’reilly’s?

      • Agatha Guilluame

        Sad how a series of interviews over a 12 month span will erase decades of goodwill. The Cosby Show, Hanging with Mr. Cooper, That’s So Raven, Cheetah Girls…

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          She’s a great child actress. She’s the closest thing to an Olsen twin in that regard.

          But as an adult, nah. I’m not happy with the idea that when she speaks, because of what she says, that usual stereotype of “speaking for all Black people” comes into play.

          • Cleojonz

            And that now they seek her out for this nonsense too.

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              That;s why I can’t do it. She’s her own person, I’m not gonna let Fox News head hunt for her every time some crappy situation happens and they need a Black person to agree with them, nor am I interested in The View getting her nutty a$$ on television to talk about how she looks like a bird when talking about the first lady being called an animal.

    • Rather Rosario Dawson.

      • Well played.

      • Emily Harris

        I was waiting to see her on the list! Also Macy Gray…

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      Find me people who like Raven Symone. While she’s talking.

  • NomadaNare

    Thing: I’m sure we all know from where the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl originated. How is it that we’ve taken a term meant to showcase the flatness of ostensibly vibrant white girls in movies about broodingly soulful sensitive white men and turned it into a positive for black women? Do we want our women to be this way?

    • Damon Young

      if life gives you lemons, make janelle monae

    • Agatha Guilluame

      I fucks with it.

    • h.h.h.

      “Mrs. Me Too” syndrome??

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