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She Still Got It!: Thriving Black Actresses

In honor of Black History Month, I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite black actresses who continue to awe us with their talent on screen. This list is not necessarily in order of my most to least favorite actresses.

  1. Lynn Whitfield

As you can see from the featured photo for this article, Lynn Whitfield has a hold on me. My obsession with Lynn began when I watched her 1996 film A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, which she starred in alongside Martin Lawrence. This comedic drama about a vengeful, heartbroken woman introduced me to the fierceness that is Ms. Whitfield. Other films that I enjoy watching a million times with her are The Josephine Baker Story (1991),Eve’s Bayou (1997), Madea’s Family Reunion (2006), and Somebody’s Child (2012). Shows that I enjoy are The Women of Brewster Place (1989) and Greenleaf (2016-), which leads me to the next lady, Oprah, who co-starred in both of these shows with Lynn.

2. Oprah Winfrey

“You get a car, you get a car, you get a car! Everyone gets a car!” Though Oprah is the queen of talk shows, she also allows us to be graced by her acting. From The Color Purple (1985) and The Women of Brewster Place (1989) to Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time (2018) Ms. Winfrey has brought us to tears with her characters’ stories of faith, strength and courage. Recently, I have been hooked to her show Greenleaf (2016-), which comes on her channel OWN on Wednesdays at 10/9c.

3. Phylicia Rashad

First of all, let me say she was born in our city, Houston, and graduated from Third Ward’s finest, Jack Yates High School. This woman is the definition of elegance, grace and beauty. Some of the earliest memories of mine of her on screen is with Bill Cosby in The Cosby Show (1984-1992), where she played the wife and mother that no one dared to cross. I have enjoyed her recent movies A Raisin in the Sun (2008), Steel Magnolias (2012), and, my all-time favorite of hers, For Colored Girls (2010).

4. Viola Davis

This speech-serving goddess inspires every little black girl to love the skin she’s in. The strength and beauty that she carries with her daily is often seen on screen in the characters she plays. My absolute favorite show with her is How to Get Away with Murder (2014-) where she plays the professor of every law student’s best dreams and worst nightmares. She is also known for her standing ovation performances in the movies The Help (2011) and Fences (2016) alongside Denzel Washington.

5. Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett or Tina Turner?  Along with her jaw-dropping performance as Ms. Anna Mae Bullock in Tina Turner’s biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993), she has starred in countless movies that I don’t mind watching over and over and over again. These include Waiting to Exhale (1995), Akeelah and the Bee (2006), Meet the Browns (2008), and Jumping the Broom (2011). Her shows that have left me in just as much awe are American Horror Story (2011-) and 9-1-1 (2018). And might I add, she continues to prove to us that black don’t crack.

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