Blacktresses: From Gabourey Sidibe to Diahann Carrollby PeggyFromMannix | created - 29 Oct 2011 | updated - 11 Jan 2014 | Public
Aunjanue Ellis, Raven-Symone, Jurnee Smollett, Gabrielle Union and the women (many of them faceless here on IMDb) that blazed the trail.
A child of the 70's looks back.
[Note: I'm continuously updating when names come to me. Most recent additions: Sufe Bradshaw, Barbara Eve Harris]
Actress | Precious
Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, the star of Precious (2009), was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother, Alice Tan Ridley, is a former special education teacher who gave up her career and became a street performer/singer, while her father, Ibnou Sidibe, is a cab driver....
Actress | Veep
Chicago native Sufe Bradshaw, born into a family of nine siblings, learned early on the value of hard work and dedication from her Sicilian dad and her mother of Ghanaian roots. She began her acting odyssey at the Los Angeles City Theatre Academy, where she earned a degree in Theatre. Soon after ...
Actress | The Sitter
Alysia hails from Los Angeles. Born of parents who met at an acting class, it was no wonder that she would have the gift. Some of those gifts are acting, singing, writing (poetry and screenwriter), stand up comedy, directing, and producing. She's had a career in Film and TV including credits like: ...
Actress | How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
Ashley Madekwe (born 6 December 1983) is an English actress. She is known for her roles as call girl Bambi in the ITV2 series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, social climber Ashley Davenport on the ABC drama series Revenge and the witch Tituba in the WGN America series Salem.
Madekwe was born in South ...
6. Kali Hawk
Actress | Fifty Shades of Black
Kali Hawk was a child prodigy, beginning high school at the age of 12, and gaining acceptance to prestigious New York arts university SUNY Purchase before she was 16 years old. While in a play on campus, she was introduced to a friend's agent and began doing commercials and plays in Manhattan's ...
Actress | Shameless
Shanola Hampton was born May 27 in Long Island, NY to a Pastor and an IRS agent. She was raised in Summerville, South Carolina with her three sisters. In college she earned a degree in Theater, with emphasis in Performance from Winthrop University along with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from ...
9. Joyful Drake
Actress | Get Him to the Greek
Joyful Drake was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her love for performing began at a young age, earning her two State Speech Performance Titles for reciting and delivering a re-enactment of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech and President Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address."...
Actress | The Prince & Me
New York native Yaani King began her career off-Broadway in "The Alchemist" at The Classic Stage Company. She segued into film and television with The Prince and Me (2004) with Julia Stiles, and Sex and the City (1998).
After studying at The Actors Centre in London, Ms. King moved to Los Angeles and...
12. Kat Graham
Actress | How It Ends
Kat Graham is a music artist, actress and producer, known for her starring role on the hit TV show The Vampire Diaries (2009).
Graham was born Katerina Alexandre Hartford Graham in Geneva, Switzerland, and speaks four languages - English, Spanish, French, and Hebrew. Her father, Joseph, is a ...
14. Denyce Lawton
Actress | Chicago P.D.
Multiethnic (African-American / Korean) actress Denyce Lawton is best known for her four seasons on the six-time NAACP Best Comedy Series Winner series House of Payne (2006) from producer Tyler Perry.
Denyce was born and raised in the New Jersey communities of Belmar and Neptune (familiar to viewers...
15. Mekia Cox
Actress | Gotham
The consummate triple threat, Mekia Cox burst on the scene when she was cast as the vivacious DJ Sasha, on The CW's hit series "90210". From there, the Florida State University graduate was able to work with other industry icons including J.J. Abrams and producer Josh Reims when she was a series ...
16. Rutina Wesley
Actress | True Blood
Rutina Wesley is known for the character Tara Thorton, on the gritty Southern vampire drama, True Blood (2008). She was born in the city most renowned for glitz and glamour, Las Vegas, Nevada and was exposed to the arts at a very early age; in fact entertainment runs through her veins. Her father, ...
18. Keke Palmer
Actress | Hustlers
Keke Palmer was born Lauren Keyana Palmer in Harvey, Illinois, a south suburb of Chicago, to Sharon and Larry Palmer, both former actors. Palmer showed vocal promise as a five-year-old, when she belted out "Jesus Loves Me" in her church choir. A year later the singer-actress had a solo in her ...
Actress | 22 Jump Street
Stevens was born in Los Angeles, California. She is the daughter of actor and radio announcer Shadoe Stevens, and former model Beverly Cunningham. She has a younger sister named Chyna Stevens (Chyna Rose Stevens). She is a graduate of Beverly Hills High School. Her father is Caucasian (of Norwegian...
21. Naturi Naughton
Actress | Power
Naturi Naughton is an American Singer and Actress best known for her performance as "Lil Kim" in Fox Searchlight's hit film "Notorious", and her role in MGM's remake of the classic film "Fame". Naughton has starred in various other projects such as: Lottery Ticket, The Playboy Club, Mad Men and The...
Actress | Switched at Birth
Sharon Pierre-Louis is a multilingual Haitian-American fluent in Creole, American Sign Language, and conversational French. She is a classical/Opera singer and has 5 siblings, including a Deaf older brother. Her parents came to the United States during the 1980s in search of a better future. Years ...
25. Tamela J. Mann
Actress | Madea Goes to Jail
Tamela J. Mann was born on June 9, 1966 in Limestone County, Texas, USA as Tamela Jean Johnson. She is an actress and producer, known for Madea Goes to Jail (2009), Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005) and Meet the Browns (2008). She has been married to David Mann since June 9, 1988. They have four ...
26. Denise Boutte
Actress | Why Did I Get Married?
Denise Boutte was born on January 19, 1982 in Maurice, Louisiana, USA. She is an actress and producer, known for Why Did I Get Married? (2007), Extreme Movie (2008) and Young Justice (2010). She has been married to Kevin Boutte since 2003. They have one child.
28. Tika Sumpter
Actress | Southside with You
Tika Sumpter was born in New York and graduated from Marymount Manhattan College. Sumpter began her career as model, before she landed the role of "Layla Williamson" in ABC's daytime soap opera, One Life to Live (1968) (2005-2010, 2011).
After she left the soap, Sumpter won a recurring role in the ...
Actress | Weeds
Indigo was born Alyssa Ashley Nichols in 1984, in Los Angeles, CA. Coming from an artistic family, she was exposed early on to various facets of the arts and attributes much of her interests in them to this.
She booked her first commercial for Armour Hot Dog at age 5, and spent the next several ...
30. Candice Coke
Actress | La La Land
Hails from New York, where she studied Educational Theater at NYU while on a scholarship for spring board diving. She started her career dancing for icons like Michael Jackson, Prince, and many others in the States and internationally. Eventually she made the transition to Los Angeles where she has...
31. Nicole Beharie
Actress | Shame
Nicole Beharie is an American actress.
Her critically acclaimed film debut was in the film American Violet (2008) alongside Alfre Woodard, Tim Blake Nelson and Will Patton. Beharie also played Ernie Davis' girlfriend in the movie The Express (2008). Her upcoming projects include My Last Day Without ...
35. Jasika Nicole
Actress | Fringe
Jasika Nicole grew up in Birmingham, AL and studied musical theatre, dance and studio art at Catawba College in Salisbury, NC before moving to NYC to work in theatre. There she performed in Off and Off-Off Broadway musicals and plays before starting her career in TV and film. Identifying as a queer...
37. Gabrielle Dennis
Actress | Insecure
Gabrielle Dennis is an actress and comedian best known for her work in television as Janay on the hit series "The Game" (CW & BET) and as Denise Roy on Spike Tv's "Blue Mountain State".
With a background as a trained dancer, actress, and singer that stretches all the way back to age 4 Gabrielle ...
38. Shanti Lowry
Actress | Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
Shanti Lowry was born on April 2, 1982 in Boulder, Colorado, USA as Shanti Misha Lowry. She is an actress and director, known for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), D.E.B.S. (2003) and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). She has been married to Anthony Schubert since 2004.
39. Yaya DaCosta
Actress | The Butler
Yaya DaCosta was born and raised in New York City along with her sister and two brothers. She got her first acting gig at the age of eleven when her junior high school drama teacher, Ann Willis Ratray, encouraged her to audition for educational films. She continued to perform in school shows ...
40. Zoë Kravitz
Actress | Mad Max: Fury Road
Zoe Isabella Kravitz, the daughter of singer/actor Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet, was born on December 1, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. She is of half African-American (from her father's mother and her mother's father) and half Ashkenazi Jewish (from her father's father and her mother's ...
41. Erica Hubbard
Actress | Fall Girls
Erica Hubbard started her career in 1988 doing voice-overs and starring in commercials such as: McDonald's, MCI, Reebok and Sears. She has worked in many markets, including Chicago, New York and California.
Ms. Hubbard has performed in feature films distributed by Paramount, 20th Century Fox and ...
44. Sandi McCree
Actress | The Wire
Actress, youth advocate and educator, Sandi McCree, known for her edgy, street-tough performance as "Delonda Brice" on HBO's The Wire, has been on the front line of arts education and media literacy for over 21 years years.
McCree began acting at age 4 growing up in Washington, D.C. where she gained...
Actress | House of Payne
Demetria Dyan McKinney (born August 27, 1979) is an American actress and singer. From 2006 to 2012 she starred in the TBS sitcom Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Her other series regular roles include Tv One sitcom The Rickey Smiley Show, Bounce TV prime time soap opera Saints & Sinners and Syfy ...
47. Lauren London
Actress | ATL
Lauren London first appeared in the film, ATL, opposite actor and recording artist, Tip "TI" Harris. Due to London's breakout success in ATL, she received an offer to star in the film, This Christmas, with Loretta Devine, Idris Elba and Regina King. Her next film role was in the teen romantic ...
48. Jennifer Hudson
Soundtrack | Dreamgirls
Jennifer Hudson is a Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Academy Award-winning actress and best-selling author. Bright and booming talent Hudson is a perfect example of how NOT winning the title of American Idol (2002) can actually be a boon to your career and not necessarily the end of a ...
49. Eva Marcille
Actress | The Young and the Restless
Eva Marcille was born on October 30, 1984 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Eva Marcelle Pigford. She is an actress and producer, known for The Young and the Restless (1973), I Think I Love My Wife (2007) and Smallville (2001). She has been married to Michael Sterling since October 7, 2018. They ...
50. Deidrie Henry
Actress | Beyond the Lights
The Barbados-born goddess, Deidrie Henry, is an award-winning actor and musician and much, much more. She came to the U.S. in the late 1970s and has been a national treasure ever since. As a student at Atlanta's Avondale High School, the range of her talents was already on display, as she excelled ...
Actress | The Mob Doctor
Jaime Lee Kirchner was born in Germany to a white father of German descent and a black mother. She considers herself "mixed". Jaime began performing at The Roxy Regional Theater in Tennessee at the age of 8. Kirchner's first big break came when she was was just 17-years-old and still in high school...
53. Tessa Thompson
Actress | Creed
The actress Tessa Lynn Thompson was born on October 3, 1983 in Los Angeles, California. She is the daughter of singer-songwriter Marc Anthony Thompson and the granddaughter of actor-musician Bobby Ramos. She was raised in Los Angeles before moving to Brooklyn, New York. Her father is of ...
55. Anika Noni Rose
Actress | The Princess and the Frog
Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose recently finished filming the lead role of the pilot episode Beast Mode (TBS / Macro), which is based on life of legendary boxing trainer Ann Wolfe. Anika is also serving as Co-Executive Producer.
In 2018, Anika starred in the title role of 'Carmen Jones' in John ...
56. Chandra Wilson
Actress | Grey's Anatomy
Houston, Texas native Chandra Wilson began performing in musicals at the age of five with Theatre Under the Stars. She attended Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and later went on to acquire her BFA in Drama from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts through which she spent four ...
57. Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Actress | Belle
Gugu Mbatha-Raw was born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, England. Her father, Patrick Mbatha, is a Black South African doctor, and her mother, Anne Raw, is a Caucasian English nurse. Her parents separated when she was a year old, and she was brought up by her mother ...
58. Paula Patton
Actress | Precious
Paula Patton was born in Los Angeles, California, to Joyce (Vanraden) and Charles Patton. Her father is African-American and her mother, who is caucasian, has German, English, and Dutch ancestry. Her family lived across the street from the 20th Century Fox lot when she was growing up and she was a ...
59. Rose Rollins
Actress | The L Word
Rose Rollins was raised in Yonkers, New York, growing up with five brothers. She is an accomplished actress who has garnered attention on both the big and small screens.
Rollins now stars in ABC's The Catch opposite Mireille Enos. The series centers on a gutsy female forensic accountant who exposes ...
Actress | Star-Crossed
Victoria Gabrielle Platt is an actress, singer and producer, known for Star-Crossed (2013), The Gates (2010), All My Children, Guiding Light (1952), 'Round Midnight (1986) and Winchell (1998). She was born to a West Indian mother and Polish father in Queens, NY. Victoria and Terrell Tilford have ...
63. Marlyne Barrett
Actress | Night Call
Marlyne Barrett was born on September 13, 1978 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Marlyne Nayokah Afflack. She is an actress and producer, known for Night Call (2017), Heist (2001) and Hitch (2005). She has been married to Gavin William Barrett since May 15, 2009.
Actress | Epic Movie
Faune Chambers Watkins was born on September 23, 1976 in Florida, USA as Faune Alecia Chambers. She is known for her work on Epic Movie (2007), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and White Chicks (2004). She has been married to Fonzworth Bentley since July 10, 2010. They have one child.
65. Tawny Cypress
Actress | Brooklyn's Finest
Among her studies, Tawny Cypress has done stints at Boston University; Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey; and Mason Gross at Rutgers University. She is also a former student of Barbara Marchant and The William Esper Studio in New York City.
66. Naomie Harris
Actress | 28 Days Later...
British actress Naomie Harris was born in London, England, the only child of television scriptwriter Lisselle Kayla. Her father is from Trinidad and her mother is from Jamaica. They separated before she was born, and Harris was raised by her mother and has no relationship with her father. She ...
67. Chelsea Tavares
Actress | Solace
Chelsea Royce Tavares (born September 22, 1991) is an American actress and singer. She best known for her role as Cranberry on the Nickelodeon series Unfabulous and as Autumn on Just Jordan. Tavares was born in Panorama City, Los Angeles, California and is of Cape Verdean descent. Tavares' other ...
68. Nicole Pulliam
Actress | Inception
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Nicole knew from a very young age that she wanted to pursue a career as a performer. To that end, she participated in several school productions while growing up, and completed numerous acting classes throughout her life. She started out slowly by taking on ...
Actress | House of Lies
Megalyn Ann Echikunwoke was born May 28, 1983 in Spokane, Washington. Her father was Nigerian and her mother is of English and Scots-Irish descent. Her last name, "Echikunwoke", means "leader of men" and Megalyn is the granddaughter of a Nigerian tribal leader of the Igbo, which technically makes ...
71. Tanya Wright
Actress | Butterfly Rising
TANYA WRIGHT BIO Tanya is a two time winner of the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) Award, Best Acting Ensemble for her portrayal of Crystal Burset in Orange is the New Black. She appears as NSA Adviser of the United Staes in Season 5 (2018) of CBS' Madame Secretary and starred for 7 seasons as Deputy ...
72. Jill Scott
Actress | Why Did I Get Married?
Born in 1972 in North Philadelphia, Jill Scott grew up in the ghetto with her mother, Joyce, and grandmother. A deeply loved and gifted child, she learned to talk at only eight months and was reading by age four. Always the center of attention, her principal in elementary school described her as a ...
73. Kiely Williams
Actress | The House Bunny
Kiely Williams was born on July 9, 1986 in Alexandria, Virginia, USA as Kiely Alexis Williams. She is an actress, known for The House Bunny (2008), The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008) and The Cheetah Girls 2 (2006). She has been married to Brandon Cox since December 17, 2016. They have ...
74. Sharon Warren
Actress | Ray
Warren's parents - her father is a policeman, her mother is an administrator at the Tuskegee Institute - steeped her in literature and theater when she was growing up. After leaving Auburn University, she decided to pursue acting. For a couple of months, she had to live in a car. Then she got her ...
75. Rashida Jones
Actress | Parks and Recreation
Rashida Jones was born in Los Angeles, California, the younger daughter of media mogul, producer, and musician Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton. She has an older sister, Kidada Jones, and five half-siblings by her father's other relationships. Her father is African-American and her mother is ...
77. Rochelle Aytes
Actress | Trick 'r Treat
Rochelle Aytes was born in New York City. She attended LaGuardia High School and graduated with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree in Dance from SUNY Purchase College Conservatory for Dance in 1998. She is best-known for her role in White Chicks (2004) as Denise Porter; her role in Left 4 Dead 2 (...
78. Joy Bryant
Actress | Bobby
Joy Bryant was born in a modest home in The Bronx, New York and as a young woman, was enrolled in an inner-city outreach organization called "A Better Chance," designed to encourage minority talent. Joy was also blessed with brains as well beauty and remained an excellent student throughout her ...
80. Rowena King
Actress | The Bucket List
Directly after graduating from Mountview Theatre School London in 1990, Rowena joined The Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford Upon Avon, working with renowned directors Danny Boyle, Roger Michell and Nicholas Hytner. Rowena's first feature film appearance was in Hanif Kureishi's 1991 drama, London...
81. Zoe Saldana
Actress | Guardians of the Galaxy
Zoe Saldana was born on June 19, 1978 in Passaic, New Jersey, to Asalia Nazario and Aridio Saldaña. Her father was Dominican and her mother is Puerto Rican. She was raised in Queens, New York. When she was 10 years old, she and her family moved to the Dominican Republic, where they would live for ...
83. Kerry Washington
Actress | Django Unchained
Kerry Washington was born on January 31, 1977 in The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA as Kerry Marisa Washington. She is an actress and producer, known for Django Unchained (2012), Scandal (2012) and Save the Last Dance (2001). She has been married to Nnamdi Asomugha since June 24, 2013. They ...
Actress | The X Files
Valarie Pettiford's career glitters like the lights on Broadway. An award-winning triple-threat, Valarie has worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment, but has never let her brushes with fame go to her head. Although some would argue that she is a celebrity in her own right, Valarie is...
85. Monique Coleman
Actress | High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Monique Coleman was born on November 13, 1980 in Orangeburg, South Carolina, USA as Adrienne Monique Coleman. She is an actress and producer, known for High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008), High School Musical (2006) and High School Musical 2 (2007). She has been married to Walter Jordan since...
86. Aisha Hinds
Actress | The Next Three Days
When Aisha Hinds' junior high school tap dance instructor observed that she needed an outlet for expression that surpassed her tap shoes, she was guided to the High School of Performing Arts in New York - where her formal acting training began.
Hinds' numerous television credits include a supporting...
87. Merle Dandridge
Actress | Half-Life 2
Merle was born in Okinawa, Japan to a mother of Korean and Japanese descent and an African-American father serving in the U.S. Air Force. After graduating high school in Papillion, Nebraska, she attended the Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University in Chicago on a full-ride scholarship and ...
Actress | Death Proof
Sydney Tamiia Poitier was born on November 15, 1973 in Los Angeles, California, USA. She is an actress and producer, known for Death Proof (2007), Grindhouse (2007) and True Crime (1999). She has been married to Dorian Heartsong since June 2012. They have one child.
91. Shondrella Avery
Actress | Napoleon Dynamite
Shondrella Avery was born in Los Angeles, California, USA as Shondrella Dupre Avery. Before her career in Hollywood, Shondrella made a name for herself as a model and a stand up comic. She is an actress and producer, known for Napoleon Dynamite (2004), End of Watch (2012), Deja Vu (2006), and The ...
93. Drew Sidora
Actress | Step Up
Drew Sidora was born on May 1, 1985 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Drew Sidora Jordan. She is an actress and producer, known for Step Up (2006), White Chicks (2004) and Wild Hogs (2007). She has been married to Ralph Pittman since August 21, 2014. They have two children.
94. Keesha Sharp
Actress | Lethal Weapon
Award-nominated actress, writer, and director Keesha Sharp has become known in the entertainment industry for her innate ability to bring complex characters to life on screen, her steadfast professionalism, and her irrefutable beauty, inside and out. In 2018 Sharp can be seen starring as Trish ...
95. Michael Hyatt
Actress | Nightcrawler
Born in England of Jamaican parents (her mother Vera an art historian and museologist and her father Charles an actor/broadcaster/comedian), Michael received her earliest education and what she considers her most formative years abroad. At the age of ten she migrated to the United States with her ...
Soundtrack | Dreamgirls
Beyoncé was born & raised in Houston, Texas. Her mom, Tina Lawson designs their glittering costumes & her dad, Mathew Knowles manages Destiny's Child. Solange, her sister (they're 4 years apart), has released her debut album. She dances with her big sister during DC-3 concerts. Beyoncé's of ...
97. Taraji P. Henson
Actress | The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Taraji P. Henson was born on September 11, 1970 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA as Taraji Penda Henson. She is an actress and producer, known for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Hidden Figures (2016) and Hustle & Flow (2005).
98. Sharon Leal
Actress | Dreamgirls
Sharon Leal is a military brat. She was born in Tuscon, Arizona. Sharon then moved with her parents to the Philippines, till she was 6 years old. She went to prayer-school there. Then, her parents packed up to move back to the US and settled in Fresno, California. Her mother, Angelita, who is ...