Episode 26 – The Blacklist: Let’s Talk About Black Actresses Part 1
Why Watch That
Thanks to some of the wonderful performances that we’ve recently seen from Lupita Nyong’o, Viola Davis, and many others, black actresses are beginning to get the recognition that they deserve. In this episode, the Critic and the Referee discuss several notable black actresses and their standout performances. Enjoy our lively conversation about these women who often get overlooked!
Oprah Winfrey – (born January 29, 1954) is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her multi-award-winning talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show which was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011. Dubbed the “Queen of All Media”,she has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and is currently North America’s only black billionaire. She is also, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard.
Viola Davis – (born August 11, 1965) is an American actress.
Beginning her career on the stage, Davis won a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for her role in August Wilson’s King Hedley II (2001). She won a second Drama Desk Award for Intimate Apparel (2004), followed by a second Tony and a third Drama Desk Award for her role in Fences (2010).Among her most notable films are Traffic (2000), Antwone Fisher (2002), Solaris (2002) and The Help (2011). Her eleven-minute-long performance in the film adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt (2008) earned several honors, including an Academy Award nomination. Her role in the film The Help has garnered two Screen Actors Guild Awards (one for Lead Actress and one for Best Ensemble in a motion picture), a BAFTA Award nomination, another Academy Award nomination, and a Golden Globe nomination. In addition to her success, she was listed in Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012. In 2014, Davis stars in the ABC legal thriller How to Get Away with Murder by Shonda Rhimes.
Angela Basset – (born August 16, 1958) is an American actress. She has become well known for her biographical film roles portraying real-life women, including Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It, as well as Betty Shabazz in Malcolm X and Panther, Rosa Parks in The Rosa Parks Story, Katherine Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream, and Voletta Wallace in Notorious.Bassett began her film career in the mid-1980s after graduating from Yale University and its drama school. She did not find any stability in the industry until the 1990s, at which point she appeared in films nearly every year.
The 2000s saw a succession of films starring Bassett, with her appearing in at least one film every single year. Bassett’s success has continued into the 2010s. Bassett earned nominations for her roles in films such as The Score (2001), Akeelah and the Bee (2006), Meet the Browns (2008) and Jumping the Broom (2011) and won awards for her performances in How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998) and Music of the Heart (1999) among others.
Kimberly Elise – (born April 17, 1967), professionally known as Kimberly Elise, is an American film and television actress. She is best known for her roles in such films as Set It Off, Beloved, John Q, The Manchurian Candidate, Woman Thou Art Loosed, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, and For Colored Girls.
Phylicia Rashad – (born Phylicia Ayers-Allen; June 19, 1948) is an American Tony Award-winning actress, singer and stage director, best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for this part in 1985 and 1986.
In 2004, Rashād became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, which she won for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. She resumed the role in the 2008 television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, which earned her the 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. Rashād was dubbed “The Mother” of the African-American community at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards.
Halle Berry – (born Maria Halle Berry; August 14, 1966) is an American actress and former fashion model. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002 for her performance in Monster’s Ball, becoming the first and, as of 2014, the only woman of African-American descent to win an Oscar for a leading role. She is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood and has been involved in the production side of several of the films in which she performed. Berry is also a Revlon spokesmodel.
Before becoming an actress, Berry entered several beauty contests, finishing as the 1st runner-up in the Miss USA Pageant and coming in 6th place in the Miss World Pageant in 1986. Her breakthrough film role was in 1992’s Boomerang, which led to roles in films such as The Flintstones (1994), Bulworth (1998) and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999), for which she won the Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, amongst many other awards. In addition to her Academy Award win, Berry reached a higher level of prominence in the new millennium with roles such as Storm in the X-Men film series (2000–present), Swordfish (2001), and Die Another Day (2002), where she played Bond Girl Jinx, later finding success in the 2010s with movies such as Cloud Atlas (2012) and The Call (2013).
Regina King – (born January 15, 1971) is an American film and television actress. She played Brenda Jenkins on the NBC sitcom, 227 and had a supporting role in the feature film Jerry Maguire. She is also known for roles on such television series as The Boondocks, Southland, and The Big Bang Theory.
Thandie Newton – (born 6 November 1972) is an English actress. She has appeared in a number of British and American films, and is known for roles such as Linda in The Pursuit of Happyness, Nyah Nordoff-Hall in Mission: Impossible II and Christine in Crash, for which she received a number of awards including a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Taraji P. Henson – Taraji Penda Henson (born September 11, 1970) is an American actress and singer. She is known for her roles as Yvette in Baby Boy (2001), Shug in Hustle and Flow (2005) and Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2009. From 2011 to 2013, she co-starred in the CBS drama Person of Interest.
Alfre Woodard – Alfre Woodard (born November 8, 1952) is an American film, stage, and television actress, producer, and political activist. Woodard has been called one of the most versatile and accomplished actors of her generation. She has been nominated once for an Academy Award and Grammy Award, 18 times for an Emmy Award (winning four), and has also won a Golden Globe Award and three Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Woodard began her acting career in theatre. After her breakthrough role in the Off-Broadway play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf (1977), she made her film debut in Remember My Name (1978). In 1980 she starred in Robert Altman’s Health and in 1983 won major critical praise and was nominated for a Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for role in Cross Creek. In same year, Woodard won her first Primetime Emmy Award for her performance in the NBC drama series Hill Street Blues. Later in the 1980s, Woodard had leading Emmy Award-nominated performances in a number of made for television movies, and another Emmy-winning role as a woman dying of leukemia in the pilot episode of L.A. Law. She also starred as Dr. Roxanne Turner in the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere, for which she was nominated an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1986 and for Guest Actress in 1988.
Lupita Nyong’o – (born March 1, 1983) is an actress of dual Kenyan and Mexican citizenship, and a film and music video director. After graduating from Hampshire College with a bachelor’s degree in film and theatre studies, Nyong’o worked as a production assistant on several Hollywood films. In 2008 she made her acting debut with the short film East River and subsequently starred in the Kenyan television series Shuga (2009). Also in 2009, she wrote, produced and directed the documentary film In My Genes.
Nyong’o later completed a master’s degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama, followed by her first feature film role in Steve McQueen’s historical drama 12 Years a Slave (2013). Her role in the film was widely acclaimed, earning her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, among numerous other awards and nominations. In 2014, she was named “The Most Beautiful Woman” by People.