In The Other Black Girl, Nella starts realizing that something is off about her new co-worker, who is another Black woman working at their firm full of White employees. The series is now streaming on Hulu.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Nella Rogers works as an assistant for Vera Parini, an editor, at Wagner Books. She aspires to be like Kendra Rae Phillips someday. Kendra worked at Wagner Books years ago as an editor.
Kendra is known popularly for her work as an editor on her best friend Diana Gordon’s book, Burning Heart, which encouraged people like Nella to grow. Back in the day, Kendra was the only Black person working at Wagner Books.
Nella admires the success Kendra achieved as a Black woman at a time like that and looks forward to cementing her legacy in the same way. Nella soon finds a new friend in a new co-worker of hers named Hazel-May McCall.
Hazel joins Wagner Books as the assistant of Maisy Glendower, another editor who is also Vera’s workplace rival. Nella and Hazel are supposed to be rivals too, as they are chasing the same position. However, Hazel turns out to be a really good friend to Nella.
Nella and Hazel share their love for Burning Heart. It brings them closer, and Hazel promises to have Nella’s back. She immediately breaks that promise by not backing up Nella when Nella points out the flaws in the stereotypical and problematic Black character of Colin Franklin’s upcoming book.
Colin Franklin is a star author at Wagner Books, and Nella’s opinion backfires on her and also risks her chances of becoming an assistant editor.
Hazel later apologizes and lets Nella know that it wasn’t the right time to back her. She tried to tell Colin the truth in a roundabout way. Hazel convinces Nella that she wants to be there for her.
Nella attempts to win Vera’s trust back with the idea of a sensitivity read on Colin’s book. When the time comes, Hazel supports Nella by making sure that she gets credit for the idea of sensitivity reading.
Amidst all of this, Nella keeps receiving mysterious notes asking her to leave Wagner Books. Also, she doesn’t know that Hazel is following her and keeping a close eye on her.
Nella does suspect Hazel’s sweetness, but Hazel keeps drawing Nella into her lifestyle. Hazel takes Nella to a party to poach authors. Unfortunately, Nella ends up coming face-to-face with Richard Wagner, the editor-in-chief and founder of Wagner Books, there.
Nella is aware that Richard must not be happy about them impersonating as editors, but Richard admits that it is daring and hears Nella’s idea of re-releasing Burning Heart on its 35th anniversary.
He tells Nella a grave secret. Everybody thinks that a couple of weeks after the release of Burning Heart, Kendra disappeared. The truth is that she took her own life, according to Richard.
Nella pitches that they can honor Kendra by re-releasing the book. Richard likes it and instructs her to meet him at the office the next day. Richard introduces Nella to the author of Burning Heart and Kendra’s best friend, Diana Gordon, who is coming back to Wagner Books.
Things get out of hand when Colin’s book gets leaked and he receives criticism for racism. With the goal of reflecting diversity, inclusivity, and the values of 2023, Richard fires Vera for ignoring this when Nella first pointed it out.
To rectify their mistakes, Richard asks the company to go with Nella’s idea of re-releasing Burning Heart and makes her the assistant editor on this. While things start falling in her favor, Nella introduces Hazel to her best friend, Malaika, and her boyfriend, Owen.
Malaika is the only one who sees through Hazel’s lies. Malaika is sure that Hazel is pretending. Nella doesn’t agree until they both attend a party at Hazel’s and meet her friends, who all, more or less, act and behave the same way Hazel does.
In a room there, Nella discovers files on various Black women. It mentions who volunteered and who didn’t. Nella’s profile is also present in these files.
Nella and Malaika suspect that this is some kind of cult, considering how all of Hazel’s friends were behaving at Hazel’s house. They try to find a common link and learn that all of Hazel’s friends are somehow working for companies that have business relations with Richard Wagner.
Nella deduces that Richard Wagner is using the idea of diversity to plant docile little pod women all over the city. Nella seeks the help of Jesse Watson, a popular podcaster who has been fighting the system for a long time.
Unfortunately, at the launch party of Burning Heart’s rerelease, it is revealed that Jesse has joined hands with Richard Wagner for their new imprint, Ascendent Books. Nella also learns that Richard is not the real mastermind here; it’s Diana Gordon. Before Nella can contact her friends, she is kidnapped.
The Other Black Girl ending explained in detail:
What happened between Diana and Kendra?
In 1985, when Kendra was working at Wagner Books. Diana surprised Kendra by showing up at work. She left an impression on Richard, who, upon learning that she is a writer, invited them for lunch to talk about what she has to offer.
Burning Heart came out after this meeting. With Diana Gordon as the writer and Kendra as the editor, it became a bestseller. However, both Kendra and Diana were no longer that good of friends anymore.
Kendra and Diana shared different mindsets. Kendra was disappointed that Diana changed their book’s tragic ending in order to make sure that it sells. Kendra believed in fighting rather than doing whatever White people told her, which is exactly what Diana had done.
What is Diana’s plan?
Diana saw Black people’s struggles differently, and her ways of surviving aren’t based on fighting the system. She believes that compromises are a part of life if one wants to be successful, and she compromised.
She continued to manipulate and teach Black women like her to compromise if they wanted to succeed, and she created a sisterhood that followed the system and didn’t try to fight it.
Diana uses a product in the form of hair grease that she applies to the heads of the women who follow her. The hair grease triggers headaches and makes these women forget stuff and give in.
Who comes to Nella’s rescue?
Diana meets Nella and informs her about the release of Jesse Watson’s book, which will make little girls like Nella feel less alone. After all, this has been Nella’s dream all along.
This book has been worked on for years by Diana and some of the greatest minds of her sisterhood. The book is going to change how Black people feel about themselves.
They just needed the right spokesperson, and Nella gave them one in the form of Jesse Watson, who has been famously fighting the system for years. Now he admits he is wrong and will tell people to join them.
Diana asks Nella if she is ready to change her mind. Nella tells Diana off, and before they can force themselves on Nella, Kendra, who is still alive, comes and rescues Nella.
Does Nella stop Diana?
Kendra has been on the run for years. Nella will also have to do the same if she wants to keep her friends and family safe. However, Nella’s friend, Malaika, who has now once been attacked by one of Diana’s sisters, reminds Nella that things are different now.
Nella knows Diana’s plan, and she can stop it. All Nella needs to do is stop Jesse’s book from getting published. Thanks to Vera, Nella and her friends get the idea of burying a sensitivity read that says the writer’s a racist.
Nella and her friends plan to turn Jesse’s followers against him. If they manage to get Jesse’s book leaked before Diana and Richard’s PR spin, they can make his followers think that Jesse is a total sellout, and they will boycott his book.
Nella breaks into Wagner Books’ office to steal Jesse’s book. There, she faces Hazel, who attempts to convince Nella one last time that compromising doesn’t have to mean giving up on your goals.
It only looks like Hazel managed to convince Nella because, the next day, Nella shows up at the office in a new look to support Jesse, Diana, and Richard, but Jesse is later kidnapped by Malaika and Kendra.
Nella calls someone to inform them that she is in. She says, “Let’s burn it down”, hinting that they are taking Wagner Books, Diana, and Richard down.