These Are Some of the Most Iconic Roles Played By Black Women in Hollywood

Sofia in The Color Purple

In 1985, Winfrey plays Sofia, a strong-willed woman who rebuffs her husband’s numerous attempts to break her will, and ends up in prison. 

Foxy Brown in Foxy Brown

Back in 1974, the idea of a female action hero was little more than a fantasy — until Pam Grier’s Foxy Brown burst on to the scene.

Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It

Angela Bassett plays Tina Turner in this 1993 biopic directed by Brian Gibson, and her moving performance earned her an Oscar nomination.

Minny Jackson in The Help

Octavia Spencer’s performance as maid Minny Jackson won an Academy Award for this role, and her lovable, put-upon character was the heart of this movie.

Effie White in Dreamgirls

Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar-winning performance as singer Effie White in Dreamgirls was dazzling: her voice alone lit up the film and took it to another level.

Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act

This movie was a box office smash — and an easy reminder of why Whoopi Goldberg makes everything better.

Ruth Younger in  A Raisin In The Sun

A Raisin in the Sun (the 1961 version) was revolutionary for its socially conscious depiction of an African-American family struggling to provide for the future.

Cleo in Set It Off

Co-starring alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, and Kimberly Elise, Queen Latifah gave the performance of her life as unapologetically butch bank robber Cleo.

Mammy in  Gone With The Wind

With her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award for Best Actress — and became the first African-American to win an Oscar in any category. 

Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures

In 2016’s Hidden Figures, Taraji P. Henson played Katherine Johnson, the NASA employee whose calculations allowed the first successful US crewed spaceflights.

Shuri in Black Panther

Black Panther gave us so many previously unseen black action hero characters, but Letitia Wright’s Shuri remains one of the most beloved.

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