Is Black Girl Missing a true story? The Lifetime movie’s origin explained

Black Girl Missing

Black Girl Missing, a Lifetime original film, was released on March 4, 2023, as a part of the network’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign. It stars Garcelle Beauvais as Cheryl, a distraught mother trying her best to find her missing daughter Lauren (played by Iyana Halley) with minimum help from the authorities and media who would rather focus on the case of a missing white girl.

The movie’s plot rings true for many missing cases of people of color. More often than not, any missing child or woman who is not white is swept under the rug by the media and overlooked by the police. Delving into this uncanny phenomenon, the film aims to raise awareness of the inequality in the handling of a missing black person case versus a missing white person case.

Black Girl Missing is not based on a true case but it is inspired by ‘actual stories of missing women of color’

Black Girl Missing is directed by Delmar Washington based on a script written by Kale Futterman but that does not mean that the film is entirely false.

The disclaimer before the film states that while the characters and events depicted are fictional, the plot is ‘inspired by actual stories of missing women of color’. Garcelle Beauvais, who not only acted as Cheryl but also served as an executive producer of the film, explained:

“I think so many times the headlines are not about us. When we go missing, immediately she’s a runaway. It’s not about what could happen… Well, if she was white and 18, it would be a different story… I think those are things we wanted to put in the movie and not shy away from, because it’s really happening.”

The film also references many real-life missing cases of black women and white women and does not shy away from comparing and pointing out the different treatments.

For instance, the characters mention several missing black women including Relisha Rudd, Mya Barnes, Jaya Allen, and Starletta Henderson whom the media knows little about. The names are of real black children and women who are still missing to this day.

Similarly, the Black and Missing Foundation showcased in the film is an actual non-profit organization that advocates for missing persons of color. The founders of the organization, Derrica and Natalie Wilson, were consultants for the film.

Moreover, a public service announcement for the foundation presented by Beauvais is featured in the film’s rollout. A documentary special Beyond the Headlines: Black Girl Missing was also released alongside the original film.

The special follows the true stories of Black missing women and the involvement of the Black and Missing Foundation in the cases.