February 28, 2016


Future Black History Month: Franchesca Ramsey's Multimedia Movement

Leslie Hassler
Leslie Hassler

February may almost be over but our Future Black History Month coverage is still going strong. If you're just joining us, every day this month we're highlighting a celebrity who's more than just a celeb. We're featuring actors, musicians, athletes, writers, creators, etc. who are changing our culture while making history.

Today we celebrate Franchesca Ramsey, an undeniable rising talent. Whether it's online or on your television, Ramsey is using her voice and unique brand of comedy to prompt new dialogues about race, gender, feminism, and equality in America.

In January 2012, Franchesca Ramsey's YouTube parody "Shit White Girls Say...to Black Girls" became the definition of a viral hit. The skit, which she wrote, edited and stars in, is a parody of the "shit girls says" meme and sparked a lot of conversation. Within days of posting to her Chescaleigh channel, outlets like Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and the Village Voice picked it up. Then came a wave of reactionary think pieces—many in support and some missing the point. Just a week after posting, the clip racked up over 6 million views and currently has nearly 12 million.

Ramsey's been creating on YouTube since 2007, including early hits like her Beyoncé-inspired song bemoaning student loan debt. After "Shit White Girls Say..." went viral, Ramsey and the video were featured on Anderson Cooper's talk show, MSNBC, ABC, BET, NPR and more.

Instead of resting on her laurels, Ramsey used this unexpected spotlight to create more socially conscious content, often with a humorous twist. Since breaking out she's also built a huge, loyal following on YouTube and Twitter, while continuing to take on a multitude of issues from homophobic slang to rape cultureracist Halloween costumes, and even fellow comedians using "free speech" as a defense for racist and discriminatory jokes.

In 2014 Ramsey joined the team at Upworthy, a website that's specializes in bringing attention to important, meaningful and positive stories from around the 'net and the world. Whether it's the stories she shared at Upworthy or those she continues to share elsewhere, Ramsey's concern for equality and her engaging, yet personable, demeanor when talking about these not-always-simple topics feels genuine, as if you're chatting with a trusted friend.

In 2015 MTV made Ramsey the host and head writer of her own on-going web series, Decoded. The series is part of MTV News' multi-platform initiative to create dialogue amongst young people about discrimination and tolerance. The series has proven to be a major success for both Ramsey and MTV. Also in 2015, Ramsey and her husband Patrick launched a weekly podcast, Last Name Basis, about current events and married life.

As if she didn't already have enough on her plate, earlier this month Ramsey officially joined Comedy Central's The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore as a staff writer and contributor. Behind the scenes, Ramsey helps write jokes and conceive clever sketches. As a contributor, she's often featured in front of the camera, acting in skits or speaking on topical cultural happenings.

Juggling her unique brand of information-via-comedy between national TV, YouTube, and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, Franchesca Ramsey is an important voice and face in our society's ever-changing and expanding collective conscious about equality and social justice. Don't be surprised when Franchesca becomes a household name in the not-too-distant future.