Black actors don’t die first in zombie films

From 'Night of the Living Dead' through 'The Walking Dead' today, black actors take the lead and score prominent roles.

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

The latest zombie thriller World War Z hit theaters yesterday and is likely to send chills down the spine of audiences across America.

The film, which stars Brad Pit, delivers apocalyptic horror to the big screen and although it lacks a racially diverse cast, it revives a genre of film where some African-Americans have excelled in the past.

When it comes to horror movies, the black actor is often the first to die.

“We often find African American characters being the first to die in such films,” writer Robert Jeffrey II said on “Imagine how it felt to finally see a strong black male lead taking hold of the catastrophic situation, attempting to keep things from getting worse. It’s amazing that a film like this was made during the late 1960s. This was during a time where the idea of a competent African American character as a leader was anathema to a large swath of America.”

The legendary George A. Romero, who directed 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, began to buck that trend by casting black actors for lead roles in his critically acclaimed zombie thrillers.

Now, films and TV series like The Walking Dead and hit horror films like 28 Days Later have cast blacks in prominent roles.

Click through our slideshow to see examples of how African-Americans have kept the zombie genre alive.

Follow Lilly Workneh @Lilly_Works