When Women Collaborate


By Shanna Bowie

Last Saturday marked the anniversary of the release of Beyonce and Nicki Minaj’s first collaboration “Flawless (Remix)”. I remember the day that single dropped. It wasn’t quite the fanfare of Beyonce’s self-titled album but Twitter was still atwitter and the carefree Black girls were out en masse. We knew we were flawless and when the video of Beyonce and Nicki performing in Paris came out, the Beyhive and the Barbs lost it.

In the past few years we’ve seen some amazing female collaborations. Ava DuVernay directed a pivotal episode of Scandal which marked the first time a Black female director was directing a Black female lead in a show created by a Black woman. It was also the introduction of Khandi Alexander as Maya Pope, Olivia’s mom who is also a spy and terrorist. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin teamed up to executive produce Grace & Frankie, which has become a hit on Netflix and netted Tomlin an Emmy nomination for Best Lead Actress. They also stood together and called out unfair pay in Hollywood when they found out the male leads on the show were being paid more than them. The release of Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” video caught a lot of flack for it’s use of violence, but few talked about the fact that Rihanna directed the video and that she tapped a virtually unknown visual artist named Sanam whose work she saw on Instagram. And this fall, the female showrunners of Agent Carter will make their comic debut writing the All-New Captain Marvel.

The fact is that when women collaborate, we get greatness but for some reason women are largely depicted as catty and competitive. And that’s not to say that it doesn’t exist. Not all women should or could hold hands and sing kumbaya but I want to celebrate the great female collaborations; the Feeling Myself’s and the Pretty Deadly’s and the A-Force’s. It could be that 20 years later we’ve truly reached the era of girl power the Spice Girls foretold.