BlackEnterprise.com is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month by commemorating those bold and brazen black women who have broken ground in film, television, and on the stage.
These women left legacies that make it possible for the thriving we see of the African American woman on screen today. Pay homage to these women through and beyond the month of March, as their contributions are worthy of championing each day of the year. Let’s celebrate these history-makers below.
1. Diahann Carroll
We all know the legacy of the diva, herself, Diahann Carroll. And if you don’t know let’s pretend that you do. Diahann Carroll is the first black woman to win a Tony Award for best actress in 1962 for her role of Barbara Woodruff in the musical No Strings. She is also the first African American actress to star in her own television series, Julia, in 1968.
2. Viola Davis
In 2015 Viola Davis became the first African American woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Annaliese Keating in Shonda Rhimes’ ABC hit drama How to Get Away with Murder.
3. Halle Berry
Halle Berry made history in 2001 as the first African American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role as Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball.
4. Whoopi Goldberg
The GOAT, or should we say EGOT, Whoopi Goldberg, is the first African American to hold each of the most highly-coveted film, television and stage accolades–Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Not only is she toting every award your favorite actresses hope for, but she also makes history as the first African American woman to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture.
5. Juanita Hall
Juanita Hall is the first black woman to win a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress, in 1950, for her role as Bloody Mary in South Pacific.
6. Oprah Winfrey
Self-made billionaire, Lady O, is the first African American woman to host a talk show leading to her position as the first African American woman to appear on Forbes’ billionaire list.
7. Hattie McDaniel
Hattie McDaniel is the first African American, male or female, to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1940 for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.
8. Ethel Waters
First African American actress to be featured in a sitcom for her role in Beulah which debuted in 1950. She later went on to quit the series due to the stereotypical portrayal of African Americans. She is also the first African American woman to be nominated for an Emmy Award in 1962.