Where Have You Been? Black Actresses Whose Talents Need To Be On The Big-Screen More Often

April 19, 2013  |  

actresses

There are some actresses (i.e,. Halle Berry, Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington) who get all of the glory, and there are some that don’t get nearly as much recognition. Phenomenal acting abilities have gone with a lack of praise while mediocre performances by non-black women are seen as unparalleled (even when they’re just okay…). You can Google lists of top black actresses, and find that while those women are great at what they do, a great deal of them haven’t even had a leading role in years (if at all). Maybe they’ve decided to take a break from acting, or maybe they are just struggling to grab those big roles, but it’s about time that Hollywood is reminded that there are strong black actresses in Hollywood, and these women need to have their faces back in somebody’s movie sooner than later.

Tracee Ellis Ross

tracee

She’s the offspring of Motown legend Diana Ross, was a model in her teen years, and played the lead role as Joan Clayton on the hit television show, Girlfriends. Ross has made quiet a splash in Hollywood because of her television roles, comedy and fashion, yet she never had a starring role in a big studio project. The former Reed Between the Lines actress has made an appearance in more than half a dozen movies and she’s made appearances on just as many television shows, but Lord knows she deserves some title roles under her belt.

Sydney Poitier

Nikki Nelson / WENN.com

Second-generation Hollywood royalty, Poitier is best remembered for her long legs, her lengthy beautifully curly tresses and her father. She isn’t, however, remembered for having very many roles. If you pause and glare off into the distance, you may remember her from short stints on short-lived sitcoms (MacArthur Park, First Years, Abby, Joan of Arcadia, Veronica Mars and Knight Rider), and her lead role as Jungle Julia in Tarantino’s Death Proof. As Jungle Julia, Poitier was able to exude confidence, sexuality and charisma–which are qualities that she would undoubtedly be able to carry over to other roles.

Jada Pinkett Smith

Source: WENN

Already a household name, Smith has had a number of supporting roles (i.e., The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, The Nutty Professor, Demon Knight, A Low Down Dirty Shame), but in recent years she hasn’t had any starring roles aside from her stint as lead RN on the self-produced sitcom Hawthorne. Her unquestionable talent on-screen over the last 20 years should have secured her has a permanent forefront actress in Hollywood, but it hasn’t.

Whoopi Goldberg

C.Smith/ WENN.com

Two Golden Globes, two Emmys, one Grammy, one Oscar and One Tony, Goldberg is easily one of the most accomplished actresses in the business. During the ’80s and ’90s, she shone as a true star with captivating performances like those in The Color Purple, The Long Walk Home, Ghost, Sister Act, Sarafina! and Corrina, Corrina–easily able to transition from comedy to drama. And, while we still see Goldberg on The View, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen her in a starring performance–aside from For Colored Girls, of course.

Queen Latifah

WENN

Latifah is an actress who constantly surprises her audience with her humor, her heart and her passion. Living Single, Chicago, Set It Off, Bringing Down The House, Last Holiday and Hairspray are just examples of how she’s able to show variety, and surprise onlookers. She often makes appearances as a lead in movies, but hasn’t earned the respect or acclaim that she deserves.

Ashanti

Source: WENN

Honestly, no one will ever accuse Ashanti of being the most talented actress, but she does have an undeniable stage presence, capturing attention any time she steps in the frame. She’s made more than a dozen television appearances, and she had a visible role in Coach Carter, John Tucker Must Die, Resident Evil Extinction and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, and some of us are looking forward to seeing her in front of the screen a little more. She even has a regular on the new season of Army Wives.

Jurnee Smolett

Judy Eddy/WENN.com

The proficient young actress who captured audience’s attention by appearing on every ’90s television show from Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper to Full House, and by starring in the film Eve’s Bayou, was later featured in films like Roll Bounce, Gridiron Gang, The Great Debaters and, most recently, Temptation. While Smollett has never disappeared from “the scene,” she’s never been in the spotlight–though she definitely should be.

Tia & Tamera Mowry

"Tia and Tamera"

Sister Sister alums, Tia and Tamera were cinematically attached at the hip for majority of their lives, making cheesy twin features well into their twenties. Tia strayed first, gaining the lead role on the sitcom The Game, and Tamera was soon cast as a doctor on Strong Medicine and was later on a short-lived show called Roommates. The pair’s name recently came back into everyone’s mouths thanks to their reality show Tia & Tamera, and hopefully the spark from reality television success will, again, make them contenders for lead roles. It’s working for Tia so far, as she has just signed on for the Nick at Nite show, Instant Mom.

Alexis Fields

wenn1999940

Fields was often cast as the mean girl in teen dramas during the ’90s and hasn’t made very many television and movie appearances since, except for campy thrillers like Jacked Up, The Call and House Party 4. It’s a shame because with her stunning features and her energetic stage presence, she’d have audiences flocking to the theater.

Raven-Symoné

Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com

Symone has been famous almost as long as she has been alive, starring in television sitcoms such as The Cosby Show, Hanging With Mr. Cooper, That’s So Raven and State of Georgia. Also, she’s been featured in a number of movies, which were generally geared toward younger audiences. With that in mind, the young actress still hasn’t won over adult audiences.

Oprah

Winfrey is well known for a lot of things: talk show host, producer, philanthropist, media proprietor, but her abilities as an actress are often overlooked (i.e. Beloved, The Color Purple, Before Women Had Wings, Native Son, Women of Brewster Place). Winfrey is able to convey loss, struggle and strength with irrefutable ease. It’s a damn shame that she hasn’t been given more opportunities to showcase those amazing skills. But maybe now that she’s done with her talk show she will, since she’s already working on Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

Pam Grier

"PamGrier"

The reigning queen of early ’70s Blaxploitation, Grier has since appeared in films such as Jackie Brown, Escape from L.A., Jawbreaker, and shows like Bones, The L Word and a few other titles, but she’s failed to return to the success of her past years, which I personally think wouldn’t be too hard to do in more serious roles.

Anika Noni Rose

Adriana M. Barraza/ WENN.com

Rose is a Tony Award winning actress who has appeared in features such as Dreamgirls, The Princess and the Frog, For Colored Girls, and the shows The No. 1 Detective Agency, and The Good Wife. And while she has been active on the stage, television and film, she isn’t a household name. Her talent as a singer, dancer and actress, however, should have people belting her name from rooftops.

Tessa Thompson

FayesVision/WENN.com

Thompson has appeared in dozens of television shows including Veronica Mars, Hidden Palms, Heroes and Blue Belle, as well as a number of films (including For Colored Girls), which all showcased her abilities a talented actress with a great deal of personality and range. We’re all looking forward to seeing Thompson making more leading appearances on-screen in the near future.

 

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  • Hazel Montana

    Ummm what about my girl Angela Bassett?!! I can’t believe you guys left her off of this list..THAT is an underrated woman…
    What’s love got to do with it, Waiting to Exhale, How Stella got her groove back, The Jackson Five: American Dream, Akeelah & The Bee, Boyz N the Hood, Notorious…etc, etc…
    My girl definitely needs to be on this list!

  • Black Santa

    Who needs black actresses when you have ratchet reality stars!

  • Jurnee did her thing in Tyler’s Temptation so hopefully she’ll get more big screen roles thereafter. Raven needs a role like the one given to Jurnee for her to sink her teeth into. At least she had that successful run on Broadway.

  • Ifuaskme2

    MN…..surely you JEST?

  • Bunny

    What about N’BUSHE WRIGHT ?

    • Sepia830

      Agreed. I really miss seeing her on screen.

    • Yeah, she was a presence wasn’t she?

  • scandalous7

    Anika!!!! yes!

  • LilScrappy_w/his_irrelevant_az

    What about Heather Headley? People think she is just a singer but she made her start on the stage and is an AMAZING broadway performer. She was Nala in the broadway version of Lion King and in Aida just to name a few

  • LilScrappy_w/his_irrelevant_az

    What about Heather Headley? People think she is just a singer but she made her start on the stage and is an AMAZING broadway performer. She was Nala in the broadway version of Lion King and in Aida just to name a few

  • Jacquiline Perkins

    they need to take a page from…Viola Davis .did TV showed what she could do until the right role came a long…she a house hole name even if the movie is not good she well be….

    • chanela

      What on earth is a house hole?

  • Rees

    All credibility was lost when Ashanti was added to this list

  • Rees

    All credibility was lost when Ashanti was added to this list

    • Jacquiline Perkins

      Whats up with that…see can’t sing either….

    • Jacquiline Perkins

      Whats up with that…see can’t sing either….

  • WhoMe

    what about Kimberly Elise?

    • Jacquiline Perkins

      AMEN…

    • Jacquiline Perkins

      AMEN…

    • Sepia830

      I like Kimberly Elise but IMO she lacks versatility as an actress. She is a powerful dramatic actress who is good at portraying victims.

  • FromUR2UB

    Oprah? Oprah?? I’m amused. She does the same voice for every role. She even had Halle Berry doing it in ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’. That bad southern drawl. Oprah must have been her acting coach.

    • Jacquiline Perkins

      it was good,,,

    • Jacquiline Perkins

      it was good,,,

    • LilScrappy_w/his_irrelevant_az

      Maybe Im on my own but I loved Their Eyes Were Watching God and the one where she was in the mental institute way back in the day and she was married to Danny Glover

    • LilScrappy_w/his_irrelevant_az

      Maybe Im on my own but I loved Their Eyes Were Watching God and the one where she was in the mental institute way back in the day and she was married to Danny Glover

  • Anika Noni-Rose is pure awesomeness! She’s one of my favorite actresses, and she definitely has the chops to be in the spotlight more.

    • Jacquiline Perkins

      that is the truth….

    • Jacquiline Perkins

      that is the truth….

    • Sepia830

      Agreed. She really impressed me in ‘For Colored Girls’. I’m looking forward to seeing her acting alongside Thandie in ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. The book was great.

  • A note of correction… For the Tia and Tamera slide, Strong Medicine came on long before The Game, so technically Tamera struck out on her own first.

  • YolandaG

    I think this list is 5 click too many…Ashanti…really MN

  • very_ opinionated

    I loveeeee Jurnee Smolett-Ball. She is the only reason i went to see Temptation. She is THE most under rated. Queen Latifah was amazing in Set It Off. A classic movie. And i would love to see more of Tia and Tamera they are such good role models/actresses