For the first time in American history, the future is looking extraordinarily bright for Black women in Hollywood. Established stars like Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Angela Bassett, Shonda Rhimes, and of course the late Cicely Tyson fought for decades to be treated with respect, to be offered more and more interesting opportunities, and to create the art they were born to create. Their activism and legacy has forged the way for a new generation of Black women blossoming, and with the way that stars like Zendaya, Jurnee Smollett, and Storm Reid are exploding on to the scene, it’s clear that their breakouts have been long overdue.
In that same spirit, we’re here to shine the spotlight on those rising stars, some of whom you’ve grown to love in recent years and some whom you may not know at all yet. From Insecure‘s Issa Rae to Avengers‘ Tessa Thompson, these women aren’t just killing it when it comes to their own careers. They’re making it their business to help pitch, support, and produce content helmed by and featuring other black women, and fighting for more diversity throughout Hollywood and its surrounding industries.
These are the Black women in entertainment who are picking up the reins and joining the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay, Halle Berry, and Beyoncé as stars whose names are synonymous with Black excellence. Read on for the Hollywood stars going all the way to the top.
A version of this article was originally published in February 2019.