We Got Now, We Don’t Care Who Got Next: 9 Black Women In Starring Roles On Television Right Now (And They’re Killing It!)

March 14, 2013  |  

Divas on TV

We’re finally having the type of positive success on television as black women that we’ve been looking for, for many years now. Or at least, since reality television took over scripted comedies and dramas. No longer do we have to just sit and accept that there are black women on TV fighting, arguing and acting a damn fool, because we finally have the option to change the channel on any given day to watch other beautiful black women in leading and strong supporting roles on many television shows. While we lost Tia Mowry-Hardrict on The Game, we’re gaining Issa Rae soon, as she’s working with Shonda Rhimes on a new series, and we have these nine other beautiful sistas who are changing the game as we speak.

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Taraji P. Henson as Detective Jocelyn “Joss” Carter

Your favorite sista from movies like Baby Boy and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has become such a force in the industry that she’s now got a leading role on the CBS drama, Person of Interest. The gritty crime drama has Henson starring as Detective Jocelyn Carter, a single mom (she lost her husband in the line of duty) and NYPD detective who works with a former CIA field officer and software engineer to catch people who need to be brought to justice for their shady crimes. Henson definitely adds to the show, as the the two main characters can get a little dull, and homegirl does not disappoint on the Thursday* night thriller, now in its second season.

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Meagan Good as Joanna Locasto

Homegirl has come a long way from playing the love interest or…yeah…

Now she is killing the game on the show Deception as Detective Joanna Locasto, a woman going undercover to try and figure out what happened to her best friend, a wealthy socialite who was found dead. By going back to her own socialite past, Locasto gets “friendly” with the sneaky and conniving to figure out who is behind the young lady’s death, as it could be someone from the girl’s inner circle.If Good isn’t necessarily what lures you in every week, you might want to tune in since Laz Alonso’s fine behind is on there too…

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Gabrielle Union as Mary Jane Paul

While it hasn’t debuted just yet, Being Mary Jane is indeed a go for BET, and the great mind that is Mara Brock Akil is behind it. Gabrielle Union will be playing Mary Jane Paul, a successful TV news anchor who has done big things with her career but hasn’t been so lucky in her private life. The series plot says, “As Mary Jane juggles her life, her work and her commitment to her family, we find out how far she’s willing to go to find the puzzle pieces that she, and society, insist are missing from her life as a single Black female.” After struggling for some really memorable roles over the last few years (she too has been caught in the “girlfriend” rut), we’re excited to see the talented actress get a big shot at small screen leading lady success.

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Thandie Newton as Grace Travis

Now this one is a must, because who doesn’t love Thandie Newton’s acting skills? Newton plays in the dark drama a grieving mother and undercover cop named Grace Travis, who worries that her job and actions played a part in the death of her son. Seeking to get justice the street way, Newton…or Travis, goes to the streets of Oakland to track down her son’s killer, and the person involved could be a crime boss she gets waaay too close to. Don’t expect to find it on your usual channels, as Rogue is an original series for Directv’s Audience Network, and it’s set to premiere on April 3.

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Regina King as Lydia Adams

King plays Lydia Adams, a dedicated detective for the LAPD’s robbery and homicide division. She’s the definition of tough, running down the bad guy even when pregnant, pulling out shotguns to protect witnesses, and just being an all around great detective with good instincts. She’s said to have an emotional connection sometimes to the cases she works, and has struggled to maintain one consistent partner over the years, but no one who watches can deny that her character, and the cop drama as a whole, is bad a**.

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Gina Torres as Jessica Lourdes Pearson

Laurence Fishburne’s real life leading lady has a pretty dominant role on the USA Network’s Suits. If you’re willing to give it a try, the show is actually very entertaining and Torres plays Jessica Lourdes Pearson, co-founding and managing partner of the Pearson/Hardman law firm. She brings a lot of sass but even more knowledge (aka good sense) to the other lawyers. She’s the good looking Head Sister In Charge and is the definition of no-nonsense on the slick legal drama.

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Rutina Wesley as Tara Thornton

Okay, so her character is something of a pain in the behind with all that attitude, but if you knew the things Rutina Wesley’s character of Tara Thornton had been through as a child with an alcoholic mother in Bon Temps, it might make a little more sense. Thornton is Sookie Stackhouse’s best friend and like many other characters on this list, she doesn’t put up with bull crap. In this latest season, after being shot trying to protect Sookie, Thornton is turned into a vampire to keep her alive, and let’s just say, all hell breaks loose after the fact. With Jurnee Smollett-Bell joining the cast and Tara still wildin’, season six is looking to be a must-watch.

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Chandra Wilson as Dr. Miranda Bailey

Who doesn’t love Dr. Miranda Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy? Well, some folks don’t and that’s because she’s super tough and doesn’t play any games when it comes to her patients. Don’t let the big innocent eyes fool you folks! She can come off as a Mean Mindy to the struggling interns from time to time, but she can also have their back when they need it. She was one of Shonda Rhimes’ first black female characters to have a great deal of power out of her three shows and she’s still one of our favorites to this day.

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Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope

How can you do a list like this and not have the queen bee? Of course, Kerry Washington is Olivia Pope, head of her own crisis management firm, and while she’s hardcore when it comes to her position and her work, her soft side has found her in a very complex relationship with Fitz, President of the United States. A controversial relationship that has its critics…but who cares!? It’s an amazing show. And I think we can all agree that the following of the show and the great acting by Washington and the cast has made is so successful that it’s allowed for many other women of color to take the reigns of black dramas and sitcoms big time, because word has spread everywhere–Scandal is a must-see…

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  • ziggy

    of course all the shows i had no clue about had no show name in the title.

  • Nastassian

    The blurb did not mention the name of the show that Regina Kings stars in

    • Ilana

      The name of the show is Southland. It’s on TNT Wednesday nights.

  • Christiana

    Where is Danai Guirea tho? She’s on the highest rated cable TV show ever… And a starring role. Talk about shadeee

  • Lioness domain

    Gina Torres is not black, she is a Latina. No disrespect but acknowledge what she really is.

    • Uuuh…

      Latina, or Hispanic rather is not a race, but an ethnic group. She is actually a black Latina. In fact, she identifies as a black woman who is a Latina.

      • Rodriguez

        Latinas are white.

        • Rita

          There is no such race as mixedrace. Gloria Torres could never get a job playing a Latina because society and the world expects Latinas to look like Sofia Vergara.

          • Ray

            Not true. Just from the top of my head, the chick that plays the young cousin in Fresh Prince plays a Latin chick in a beauty shop movie.

      • Ray

        Black is not a race either, neither is white. As a matter of FACT, race doesn’t exist, and that’s a scientific fact. The only race that exists is the human race. But if we were to use “races, “everyone is mixed now anyway. Most “black” actors, celebrities, etc. are mixed, just like “white” ones.

  • roughcutdiamond

    2 are hispanic and 1 is half white. I am neither. I don’t like being baited into a list about black people and then there are mixed race people on the list.

    • Uuuh…

      Mixed race people are considered black in most circles. It’s only been in recent years that any other racial group has proudly accepted anyone who has African descent. My grandmother was biracial, but for every year of her life she proudly proclaimed that she was a black woman. What’s your problem with multiracial people being black anyway?

    • Rodriguez

      The two Hispanics are black they would never be considered as Latina. And there is no such race as mixedrace.

      • Rodriguez

        There is only one Hispanic anyway Gloria and she is black she certainly isn’t close to being white.

      • Rosales

        I don’t see a single Latina in the pictures even if I squint. Sorry, but Latinas don’t like to be grouped with women like Gloria we prefer the Selena Gomez type.

    • Ray

      I bet you aren’t 100% “black” because everyone is mixed nowadays.

  • Ms.Brilly

    I agree. And I LOVE Laz… but his acting on Deception is deplorable. Meagan won’t be getting any awards for her acting either. I’d be surprised if the show had a second season. And yes, Suits is AMAZING. Torres is about her business on that show!

  • Archelle

    Are you kidding me!?! WHere is Danai Guirira from The Walking Dead? Her charachter Michonne was one of the most hotly anticipated charachters on this highly rated show and she’s beautifully dark skinned with natural hair. Who makes these lists? White folks?

  • demarkuslove

    Man, who gives a damn!!!, I’m black, and i say show me some Hispanics who are hard working also in the industry, black women aren’t the only ones

    • Kenya

      We aren’t talking about Hispanics right now. We are talking about Black women. Hopefully the conversation about Black women getting ahead in Hollywood will continue. I’m sure somewhere on some Hispanic blog they are talking about Hispanic women in Hollywood. I suggest you go there if you are so concerned about Hispanic women, but his is BOSSIP!

      • demarkuslove

        I know wht we are talking about, but my point is when w the last time the black women was truly behind, so black women doing lead roles is nothing new, just like black women serving on the front lines of the military, that’s not new either!, so lets talk about another ethnic group that u don’t see in the fore front, lets see another group get a fair shake, then the real competition begins like that.

        • Rodriguez

          White Latinas are on television all the time and they are making it big in Hollywood only the black Hispanics aren’t shown.

      • demarkuslove

        Clearly i support black women, i workrd well for them and only date them, BUT!!!, I’m still saying i would like to see more diversity on prime time.

    • Rodriguez

      No, you are not black because black women would appreciate seeing black women making it big on TV for a change. If you want to talk about Hispanics go to Lossip don’t stop here.

      • demarkuslove

        And for you, what do mean black women are just starting to make it big, Queen LATIfah, pam grier, and a host of others been doing it big!!, so what’s ur statement aboit just starting to, explain plz?

  • M.Beg

    Jungle fever

  • M.Beg

    Jungle fever

  • hollyw

    Ok I admittedly don’t watch Persons of Interest, not b/c I don’t love Taraji, but the premise just doesn’t pique my interest, and also didn’t watch Deception past half the first episode; not b/c I dislike the premise, but I still dislike Meagan’s acting lol. All others, I fully support. Wish I could see Thandie’s (they really don’t want American Blacks to support overseas Blacks, just like w/Luther), and I’m excited about Wade’s future bab mama’s hit!

    True Blood, True Blood, True Blood!

  • Person of Interest Fan

    WOW! Is it THAT serious? I posted a comment suggesting the person who wrote the “blurbs” do a little more fact checking since the info about “Person of Interest” was wrong but THAT comment was deleted while my original comment still stands. It was not a “diss” just setting the record straight since the info WAS incorrect and you are trying to get people to support these ladies and their shows. If that’s the goal then it make sense to give people the correct info so their interest is “piqued”. The show comes on Thursdays not Tuesdays, Taraji’s character is called “Carter”. She’s never called “Joss” and there’s not been one episode where they have had any terrorists. The other stuff was the author’s opinion which they have every right to have. Wow, I was told this could happen but never experienced it myself until tonight. Same thing happens on the other sites under this umbrella. Sad thing is comments from “ghetto” folks calling people names and insulting them are welcome but others are removed. Either the program auto deletes comments with certain words or phrases or there’s someone who gets paid to just look at comments and delete any that in any way criticize the author. Again, WOW! smh!

    • Sonya

      Actually you should check your facts. There was a bomber, i.e. terrorist, in an episode.

    • MNEditor2

      Greetings, if your comment is a bit long as it says in the comment disclaimer above or it has certain words that sound the alarm for WordPress (there are many, specifically ones of a sexual manner), your comment isn’t deleted, it’s just grabbed by the system and requires approval before going up. Nobody deleted your comment for speaking your mind…

  • P.O.I. Fan

    And no offense to the person who wrote the “blurbs” about Taraji and “Person of Interest” but the info is ALL wrong. She’s never called “Joss”, just “Carter”, the show date was wrong and the author does not seem to know much about the premise of the show since they’ve never had a “number” turn up that involved terrorist activity at all. If you’re going to encourage people to watch at least get the facts straight so people will WANT to tune in. Just saying…

  • P.O.I. Fan

    “Person of Interest” comes on Thursdays, not Tuesdays and they don’t catch “future terrorists”, they get a SSN from “The Machine” and then have to figure out if the person is the victim or perpetrator. No matter which, they get involved and either save the person or catch them. It is a GREAT show and as Carter, Taraji more than holds her own as the main female lead. If you have not seen it, you’re missing out – SERIOUSLY! JIm Caveziel (Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ”) is John Reese the main character who works with and for Michael Emerson (“Lost”) who portrays Finch, a secretive, genius billionaire who built the machine for the government after the 9/11 attacks but uses the data the government did not care about to assist those in need of help OR catch them and makes them pay for their crimes. Carter was after Reese but now she works with them along with her partner Fusco, an ex-dirty cop who was ordered to kill Reese in the first episode but Reese let him live and now he works for them as well as has redeemed himself. This is our “can’t miss” show each week followed by “Elementary”. Check it out if you’fre looking for a great show to get hooked on 🙂

  • Mel

    Regina King is probably the best working actress on tv right now, black or White. And everything in between.

    Gina Torres on Suits is really a vision. She’s stunning and she completely embodies that character. I’m not a fan of Scandal and I don’t really watch Taraji on Person of Interest. In fact, I’ve always found Taraji to be a really stereotypical actor. A bit one note.

  • I can’t wait for ‘Rogue’. Thandie Newton has mad skills as an actress.

    • Keisha Samoht

      i wish it came on a national network…

  • Nick

    Loved them ALL