Black witches in entertainment — there’s not a whole lot. Oftentimes crossing into quasi-religious depictions, much of Black witchiness is based in polytheistic, animist, shamanistic, and ancestor worship beliefs that originated in various parts of Africa. Namely the prevalence, at least in Western media, trends toward Voodooism or Hoodooism; derivatives of West African belief systems, with various degrees of respect and authenticity. However, Black people aren’t completely absent from traditionally (and stereotypical) white-associated depictions of witchiness that grew out of Western Europe.
Not everything on this list will fit the stereotypical “witch” mold of either variety; but it’s a selection of the few positive depictions we could find so far of Black witches in media. If you can think of others please let us know in the comments!
The Craft, 1996
Rochelle Zimmerman is the odd one out as the only Black girl in her neighborhood. She endures the incessant bullying of her racist peers,and is able to exact her revenge though her delight in her bully’s demise. Eventually, it leads to her losing her powers.
Rachel True’s portrayal as a misfit in an all-white Catholic school was, for many in 1996, the first time seeing a Black woman as a witch and an equal in an ensemble for a horror-fantasy film. It’s a character and performance that still resonates with audiences over twenty years later. True has commented about the longevity of the film; but also on the racism that she experienced at conventions and fan events despite being a huge part of the cult favorite.
WHERE TO WATCH: Hulu
Portrayed by Eartha Kitt in the film adaption of Holes, Madame Zeroni is a fortune teller who, after being betrayed by her close friend, places a curse of bad luck on them and their descendants that would last “for always and eternity”. It may seem petty; however, he was duly warned what would happen if he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. In return for a trip up a mountain where she could drink from healing waters to restore her failing health, she would help him fulfill a dowry requirement. After getting what he wanted and being ultimately unsatisfied, he packed up and left town never to visit Madame Zeroni again.
Though Madame Zeroni is not a prominent character, she is the most important and powerful. If it weren’t for her there would be hardly be a tale to tell. Eartha Kitt is at her usual stellar best.
WHERE TO WATCH: Disney+
Apolla and Artemis
Twitches, the made-for-TV Disney Channel film, is a scenario in which the source material depicted the characters as white. Tia and Tamara Mowry play two long-lost twin sisters, Artemis and Apolla respectively. They discover they’re not only related, they’re witches. They are dual opposites with each complementing the other in both personality and magical ability.
As they discover more about themselves and each other, they learn that they are strongest when they are together. The story is as light and fun as you might expect from a movie made for the Disney audience; however, it doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter, like the loss of a parent and the difficulty of accepting a fast-changing reality. Twitches was popular enough with viewers that a sequel was produced; following the young Black witches deeper into their magical world.
The Princess and the Frog, 2009
Disney gave us their first Black animated Princess and a wonderful juxtaposition of good and evil in the way witchiness is depicted in the film. Voiced by the incomparable Jenifer Lewis, Mama Odie is described as a Voodoo priestess; serving as a guide and elder figure. She assists Tiana, the future princess, as she tries to find her way through the swamp so she can get out of her frog body and into her dream restaurant.
Mama Odie sings about finding who you are within yourself to lead you to what that you really need to get what you want. She uses the power of intuition to help the amphibians in need instead of solving their problems through magic; as it comes at a price. Don’t doubt her skills, Odie shows that her magic is readily available, conjuring things right out of thin air.
WHERE TO WATCH: Disney+
True Blood, 2008
Readers of the books by Charlaine Harris will know that this character doesn’t get to live long in the world of vampires and fairies. In the series refashioned by Alan Ball for HBO, the late Nelsan Ellis’ superb scene-stealing performance as the quick-witted, no-nonsense short order cook — sex worker, construction worker, drug dealer — with a sincere devotion to his cousin Tara and a connection to the other side; solidified his place as a fan favorite that saw him survive the television version.
As his character develops over the seasons, we see his powers grow as a medium; and we begin to understand why his connections with the ones he loves are so deep. He’s also one of the few depictions of male witches we see in media, Black or otherwise; which means we want more. A lot more. You can stream the series on HBO’s streaming services.
The Worst Witch, 2017
This character’s life began in the books of Jill Murphy. Eventually adapted to a television series in 1998, the stories of Mildred, Enid, and Maud found new audiences in a revamped version for CBBC, ZBF, and Netflix. The latest Enid is played by Tamara Smart, who gives an adorable and confident performance. Smart’s inclusion in the cast (as well as other actors of color) undeniably makes the show more accessible to a viewers who otherwise don’t get to see themselves portrayed positively, if at all, in mainstream stories about magic.
Enid was originally written and portrayed as white. Her naturally curly hair, devious grin, and eagerness to have fun — no matter the stakes — make her a delight every time she appears on screen. The story, at least in Season 1, doesn’t dive into tropes about race; but we do see Enid struggle with fitting in.
WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix
The Women of Juju
This crowd-funded series, written and produced by Moon Ferguson, originally premiered Halloween 2019 on YouTube; and places Black witchcraft front and center. The story follows the lives of three best friends as they learn about their true identities as descendants in a long line of Black witches.
Yaya, Gigi, and Ally live together in Brooklyn, and each has their own distinct personality and witchy abilities. Gigi is a sharp-tongued social media influencer who has a power of magnetism over men; Yaya works at a plant nursery and is a powerful empath who also has telepathic abilities; and Ally is a long-suffering production assistant who can influence people’s behaviors with a simple word.
On the surface, they’re like any typical Black millennial woman in her late thirties trying to make sense of life. However, their lives are turned upside down when Ada, a mysterious stranger, quite magically suddenly appears. She comes with a dire message to embrace their witchiness as something sinister is coming. The characters are endearing and the story is compelling.
A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting, 2020
Babysitting gets a lot more magical in this Netflix film starring Tamara Smart of The Worst Witch. When the child Kelly (Smart) is babysitting gets kidnapped by the Boogeyman, she’s thrust into a hidden world of monsters. To track him down, she connects with a secret society of babysitters who use elements of magic to protect children.
Kelly and her new babysitter crew take on the monster world as they hunt down the Boogeyman. Along the way, they use magic dust, potions, amulets, and more to defeat scary creatures and save the day.
WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix
The Craft: Legacy, 2020
Lovie Simone stars as Tabby in Blumhouse’s The Craft: Legacy, a reboot of The Craft (1996). Tabby, along with coven members Frankie and Lourdes, are trying to freeze time with magic. However, they need a fourth witch to make the spell work. Fortunately, Lily moves to town.
The three girls recruit Lily into the coven, and successfully complete their spell. The win sets off a string of magic as the coven tests the limits of their powers. They also reveal life-changing secrets they never anticipated.
WHERE TO WATCH: Starz
Sydney and Howard Gordon
The Curse of Bridge Hollow, 2022
Sydney Gordon (Priah Ferguson) believes in ghosts, which is a good thing when your family moves from Brooklyn to Bridge Hollow, a small town that loves Halloween. Her father, Howard (Marlon Wayans), likes science more than spirits and isn’t as impressed.
When an ancient spirit escapes and terrorizes the town, Howard and Sydney form a surprising team to take it down.
WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix
Cece Parker Jones
In this fantasy series, Cece Parker Jones’ dreams are coming true as she moves from the States to France to study at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Her life takes an even bigger turn when she accidentally discovers she’s a witch. In the process, she manages to lift a protection spell that’s shielded her from being pursued by a group called the Mystics that’s after her magic.
Spellbound follows Cece as she figures out how to navigate a new school, new witch powers, new friends, and new enemies. Oh, and she has to keep her magic a secret. Should be a breeze… right?
WHERE TO WATCH: Hulu
More Black Witches in Entertainment and Media
Glinda the Good Witch of the South
The Wiz, 1975
There are so many retellings and depictions of L. Frank Baum’s stories and characters; but there is only one that shows the indomitable actresses Lena Horne and Dee Dee Bridgewater as Glinda The Good Witch of the South.
Bridgewater starred in the original 1975 Broadway musical and Horne starred in the 1978 film adaptation of The Wiz. Glinda makes a brief but powerful appearance toward the end of the story; singing to Dorothy passionately that the place she seeks to be was with her all along if only she believes in herself — and of course, clicks her heels three times.
Glinda is fabulous, elegant, and powerful. She serves as the antithesis of her sister Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West. Evilene didn’t make our list on her own because we want to show positive images of witchiness; but you certainly won’t forget her.
The Black God’s Drums by P Djèlí Clark, 2018
We’ve seen so far that a lot of Black witches that makes it to our TV screens started from books. Luckily, in the world of literature there are more abundant and richer stories of Black witches. In the 115-page The Black God’s Drums, P Djèlí Clark introduces us to Creeper. She’s a thirteen-year-old Black girl who lives in the neutral city of New Orleans in an alternate reality where the American Civil War resulted in the break-up of the Union.
Living life with Orisha goddess Oya inside her, Creeper longs to leave New Orleans behind to see the world. The story is told from her perspective as she navigates through this weird world with street smarts and undue confidence. Her inner life is rich and fascinating. However, her power depends on how much she allows Oya to make use of and guide her. We’re taken on an adventure as she finds herself in the position of being the key to the city’s destruction or its salvation.
“I Put A Spell On You”
Jalacy Hawkins, Nina Simone
Though there are dozens of interpretations, these two take the top spots. Written and originally recorded by Jalacy “Screamin Jay” Hawkins in 1955, the song sounded so sinister to white audiences that it was banned from radio. Hawkins would inspire shock rock musicians for generations with many adopting his flair for theatrics and screaming and howling.
In her more sophisticated rendition, Nina Simone sings and scats in her distinctive contralto as piano keys tremble, “I put a spell on you because you’re mine.” Her version, released in 1965, served as a single and lead track on the spellbinding album of the same name. It’s considered one of her signature records.
Fairy Godmother, portrayed by Whitney Houston in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Technically, she’s a fairy; but we’re listing her because she’s a witchy fairy. Also, “There Is Music in You” should be required listening. You can watch Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997) on Disney+.
Raven Baxter in That’s So Raven
Though Raven isn’t a witch in the strictest sense, she’s most definitely witchy through her clairvoyant ability. Raven is unique in more ways than one as she’s the show’s lead and not a supporting character, like most others on this list. You can watch That’s So Raven on Disney+.
The little kids in the The Skeleton Key
Yes, they were murderous; but on account of slavery and white supremacy, they get a pass. Though, we do feel a little sad for Kate Hudson’s character. She really seemed like a decent person. You can watch The Skeleton Key on Peacock.
Tia Dalmas, the mystic in the Pirates of the Caribbean series
This character first appears in Dead Man’s Chest and — spoiler! — is later revealed to be Calypso, Goddess of the Sea.
Marie Laveau, American Horror Story: Coven
Played by the talented and beautiful Angela Bassett, this character is based on a real person whose life and influence deserve its own attention. You can watch American Horror Story: Coven on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.
Soleil, Missy, Pat, and Stanley in Fright Krewe
In this 2023 animated series, a group of kids in New Orleans are gifted with special powers from Marie Laveau (yes, that Marie Laveau). Their mission: Defeat a demonic spirit that’s threatening the city. You can watch Fright Krewe on Hulu.
Who did we miss? Drop us a line and let us know your favorite Black witches below!
Header: Nelsan Ellis in True Blood (HBO)