Black History Month: Then and Now in Television

Black History Month: Then and Now in Television

In celebration of Black History Month, honors those history-makers who have come before us and those current influencers who carry their torch. Today, we honor these acting legacies.

[Related: American Black Film Festival Picks Up Where Oscars Left Off]


Diahann Carroll (1935-)
We must pay homage to the legendary and extraordinary Diahann Carroll, as she is the ultimate black history-maker as the first black actress in television history to star in her own series, Julia, for NBC; a role that earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series in her first season. In addition to her first Emmy nomination, Carroll also received nominations for her roles in NBC’s A Different World , ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, and ABC’s Naked City.

Along with her several Emmy nominations, Carroll was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in American film, Claudine, and several Golden Globe nominations for her roles in Claudine and Julia, for which she won Best TV Star in 1969.

Though these are all notable acclaims, Carroll’s arguably most-cherished role was that of first class diva, Dominique Deveraux Lloyd, on mega-hitting prime time soap opera, Dynasty.

Sixty years of Carroll’s artistic impact didn’t stop on the big and small screens. She is also a Tony Award winning Broadway actress with credits including Harold Arlen and Truman Capote’s House of Flowers, Richard Rodgers No Strings, and the award-winning play, Agnes of God.

In addition to her being an award-winning actress, Carroll is also a successful entrepreneur and humanitarian.

Diahann Carroll’s legacy will be honored at the American Black Film Festival 2016 ABFF Honors awards gala, Feb 21st, Los Angeles, California, in celebration of black excellence in motion pictures and television.


Kerry Washington (1977-)
Following closely in Diahann Carroll’s footsteps is none other than, you guessed it, Kerry Washington. Washington brings the nation to a pause on Thursday’s when she lights up the screen as leading lady, Olivia Pope, in award-winning ABC prime-time series, Scandal. Washington follows Carroll as one of the very few African-American women to star as lead in a prime-time series, and be nominated for an Emmy for their performance.

Washington’s acting career became noticed by the mainstream in 2001 with her role as Chenille in American film, Save the Last Dance. Following this role, Washington’s career catapulted as she began to take on notable roles  in box office hits: The Last King of Scotland, I Think I Love My Wife, Ray, She Hate Me, For Colored Girls, and Django Unchained.

Her career accolades include several SAG and Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her remarkable performances in Ray and Scandal. She’s won several NAACP Image Awards for her work in Ray, Scandal and Django Unchained.

In addition to her thriving acting career, Washington is also an activist and humanitarian.

“ABFF Awards:  A Celebration of Hollywood,” airs on BET and Centric Tuesday, February 23rd at 8 p.m. ET/PT