On New Digital Series ‘The Table’ And How Black Oak TV And 220 Street Productions Are Taking Black Narratives Into Their Own Hands

On New Digital Series ‘The Table’ And How Black Oak TV And 220 Street Productions Are Taking Black Narratives Into Their Own Hands | Photo: The Table
On New Digital Series ‘The Table’ And How Black Oak TV And 220 Street Productions Are Taking Black Narratives Into Their Own Hands | Photo: The Table

The need for authentic Black stories is more prevalent than ever and this streaming platform is creating a space to do so.

“We believe there’s a huge audience out there that’s being underserved, particularly Black millennials and Black Gen Z-ers, that we think is looking for amazing content that’s catered to them,” Black Oak TV founder Uzo Ometu told Blavity’s Shadow and Act in a recent interview. “Our goal has always been to be the place with the most invested Black content out there so since we launched in 2021, we have been trying to fulfill that. We’ve worked with a lot of amazing creators and filmmakers and the idea has always been to try and work with as many as possible to create an independent, disparate catalog of amazing Black TV shows that target a range of personalities.”

Over the years, Ometu has partnered with Caralene Robinson, the creator of 220 Street Productions, to share stories that truly speak to the fact that being Black is not a monolith.

“Black Oak TV is important for creators like myself because it gives us the ability to tell our own stories through our filter with our own narratives,” said Robinson. “A lot of times, working in the traditional system, there’s certain verticals and some of them are rooted in our history and our trauma, but there’s kind of these very specific verticals and so this allows someone like myself who tells aspirational stories about Black people and Black women to flourish and thrive and give us a platform and show that there’s a market for these kind of stories.”

Black Oak TV is also in the community, aiming to connect with Black creators and disruptors from all walks of life to reach people beyond the screen.

“We do in-person events in part because we want to be more than just a streaming service,” Ometu explained. “That’s what we’ve started and that’s at the core of what we do. I think back to what BET was in its heyday… it wasn’t just a cable channel, right? It was something you had to watch to be involved in the culture. And that meant doing all types of content whether it was music, programming, talk shows…and over the years, that has changed.  “We think that’s something that is missing and that we can bring the in-person events to help us do that, by not focusing on the digital aspect of what we do. But doing things like comedy events, doing screeners, having dinners…all of this allows us to just talk and interact with our viewers and with creators in unique ways that make us learn more about what’s going on. And for me, it’s been a great way to meet new people, new creators and get introduced to filmmakers. They’re always excited to see what we’re doing and that we’re willing to do different things both online and offline. It’s enabled some awesome connections.”

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Ometu and Robinson are back in partnership to share The Table, a digital series with an interesting twist on Black love.

“When Uzo came to me and said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for a relationship story. Do you have anything?,’ I was inspired by a famous photography series, Carrie Mae Weems: The Kitchen Table Series, which sort of explores the battle around family in the Black community. And I was getting a little frustrated because I felt that there was a very narrow depiction of Black relationships in film and television,” Robinson recounted. “I wanted to give a story the ability to ebb and flow and go through changes and show how two people, by addressing their issues individually, can help contribute to a partnership more healthily.”

“So, it’s about two very different people. Ed is from Newark, raised by a single mother, the oldest of several children, [grew up] working class [and has] been able to take that hustle and create a career for himself on Wall Street. [And there’s] London, who’s the daughter of a white physician and a Black yogi out of Sedona, [and] we kind of tell their story across seven years, which is the cycle of completion.”

Working alongside someone like Robinson is a necessity for Ometu and Black Oak TV’s mission to “bring people as many amazing stories as possible.” 

“I want people to walk away from The Table and say, ‘I love that I got to see myself in it.’ And I want more for us, that is the big thing. We want everyone to have that emotional appeal. I’m a kid of the 90s,” Ometu recalled. “I grew up watching a lot of those Black sitcoms that were a little too on the nose, but they were great. Everyone loved them. From Family Matters to Hanging With Mr. Cooper. These are great things that had those moments, but they made you feel something. They made you feel warm.”

Soon, people can expect more original content like The Table on the Black Oak TV platform, as well as talk-show-themed concepts, unscripted content and more.

For Robinson, 220 Street Productions will continue to fulfill its goal of telling a broad spectrum of Black stories while simultaneously normalizing how different our community is.

Next on her plate is a documentary centered around the history of Black advertising agencies, which is 10 years in the making.

Both Black Oak TV and 220 Street Productions are on a road to vast, compelling narratives one Black story at a time.

The Table will be available for streaming exclusively on Black Oak TV starting on Feb. 14.