*Mariama Diallo, is the talented director behind the highly anticipated Hulu series “The Other Black Girl,” based on Zakiya Dalila Harris’ best-selling novel.
In an interview with EUR, Diallo delves into the themes and creative choices that shape the show’s narrative.
“The Other Black Girl” revolves around “Nella,” an editorial assistant faced with the isolation of being the only Black employee in a predominantly white publishing company. Her world twists when Hazel, another Black girl, joins the firm.
Nella believes she has found an ally in Hazel, but Hazel seemingly leaves Nella out to dry, betraying her trust. The series presents seemingly normal situations with a touch of creepiness, a trademark element of Diallo’s work.
Diallo explained her fascination with this thematic approach. “I love considering what’s happening behind the curtain. I’ve been a lifelong horror fan. So I love freaking myself out. I love telling stories about a supernatural explanation for what’s going on. With just a little bit of the unexplained, it was exciting to work on ‘The Other Black Girl’ because although it’s not entirely like some of the past things I’ve done, it contains this mystery or suspense element.”
One of the central themes of the series is the feeling of isolation on the path to success, a perspective that Diallo keenly wanted to capture in her direction. She explains how they worked with cinematographer Karen Anderson to represent Nella’s isolation within the corporate world visually. Diallo stated, “we wanted to picture Nala from afar so that her figure would be quite small in the frame and really be dwarfed by the office space. You’re getting this sense of her isolation within that vast corporate space.”
The series also explores the intriguing relationship between Nella and Hazel. Diallo emphasized the ambiguity surrounding their dynamic, saying, “there’s definitely ambiguity early on and throughout the season of what their relationship is going to be, and what Hazel’s intentions are towards Nella.”
Diallo highlights the stark personality differences between the two characters, with Hazel being outspoken and bold, while Nella has been trying to blend in and avoid causing a stir.
Diallo and the team used costume design as a powerful tool to highlight these personality differences. She explained, “Hazel’s wardrobe was visually dynamic and engaging with bright colors and textures, whereas the general Wagner employee base stuck to more muted tones and neutrals.”
This stark contrast in attire reflects the clash between Hazel’s unapologetic self-expression and Nella’s more reserved demeanor.
“The Other Black Girl” is currently streaming on Hulu.
Jill Munroe is a Los Angeles-bred entertainment journalist, producer, and host. Listen to her live, weeknights 9 PM-Midnight on KBLA Talk 1580. You can follow her on all social media @StilettoJill or check out JillMunroe.com
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