Annie comes out in theaters today! Fans and critics are already raving about Quvenzhane Wallis’ performance and portrayal as the title character. Wallis has garnered a wave of positive roles for herself — becoming Hollywood’s pint-sized “it” girl and a role model for little Black girls out there to watch.
But she isn’t alone! Other young Black women managed to break down barriers in Hollywood and star in roles positive for children to watch and look up to.
Hushpuppy, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Quvenzhane Wallis kicks off this list as Hushpuppy — filming in the role at the tender age of five years old. She went on to become the youngest actress to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for her performance at the age of nine and a half.
In the adventure-filled film, Hushpuppy navigates her way through life with a big imagination (dealing with ice caps and frozen Aurochs), her hotheaded, fading father and her Bayou community as a nasty storm destroys their “Bathtub” homes. In the film, she finds courage and love as she navigates her way through these scary adventures — proving “she’s the man!”
This tale is more of “a child movie for adults” that children can still watch and can inspire young Black girls to face their fears and be courageous during periods of loss and discovery.
Rocky Blue, “Shake It Up”
Zendaya Coleman starred as Rocky Blue on this hit Disney dance show. Rocky is smart, level-headed, practical and responsible. She’s the opposite to her best friend, CeCe (Bella Thorne) yet they balance each other out. As the series progessed, she became more outspoken and assertive. She’s a positive role model for all the goody two shoes with an edge. Because oh boy, can she dance!
Blue’s dream is to be a dance superstar (with her best friend, of course), and she dances on the show, “Shake It Up.”
She’s a pure example of following your dreams.
Penny Proud, “The Proud Family”
Penny Proud (voiced by Kyla Pratt) represents many 14-year-old girls. She’s developing her own ideas, has a feminist point of view many times, enjoys hanging out with her friends, is easily embarrassed by her parents, but still listens to them.
Proud is a straight A student, cracks under peer pressure occasionally but is still logical. She’s a talent singer. Also, she joined many clubs and activities — including the football team and newspaper staff.
There’s nothing this ‘proud’ girl couldn’t accomplish. Not to forget she has very loving yet quirky family. “The Proud Family” showcased Black family life through an animated Black teenager’s eyes, which was pretty groundbreaking for a Disney show geared to towards children.
Raven Braxter, “That’s So Raven”
Raven Braxter (Raven Symone) is one of the most memorable leading Disney TV ladies. That’s for sure. Not only that, but she has much personality.
She’s a fashionista, an amazing singer and a great friend. Although, her psychic visions are problematic and cause her to misinterpret events and get in trouble. She’s still a fierce girl who means well.
Not only that, but her disguises are funny and on point… until they unravel.
She’s definitely a role model for young girls who are realizing the power they have, but with that power comes great responsibility (as Spiderman taught us).
True Jackson, “True Jackson VP”
True Jackson (KeKe Palmer) is a teenage girl who is also the Vice President of the Youth Fashion Department at Mad Style. Talk about being accomplished at a young age. And although she is young and successful, she manages to have fun with her friends at her office and gets into trouble because she’s still a kid.
She gets her job by having a sense of style and fashion. Also, she’s a talented designer. She altered designs from Mad Style and was hired by the CEO Max Madigan when just luck has it, he gets wind of the alteration.
Talk about being at the right place at the right time having done the right thing.
Jackson is an inspiration to young girls to be go-getters no matter their age.
Chyna Parks, “A.N.T. Farm”
Chyna Parks (China Anne McClain) is one talented young girl. She’s so advanced in instrumental music, singing and academia, she enrolls in high school at the age 11. She’s in a Disney show called A.N.T. (Advanced Natural Talents) Farm focused on kids who are prodigies in different areas.
Parks is a musical prodigy and is the leader of the other prodigies.
She’s a role model to young girls perfecting a talent while gifted at young age.
Tiana, The Princess and the Frog
Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) is a 19-year-old, hard-working girl who is very ambitious and goal-oriented. She wants to open her own restaurant. But her ambition and work ethic cause her to forget about caring for family and having some fun.
She kisses a frog prince and turns into a frog herself. And they must find a way to become human again before it’s too late.
In the process of trying to turn human again, she and Prince Naveen fall in love. But they don’t stop the spell in time for them to turn human again. They decide to live together as frogs and get married. When they do, her status as a princess helps change them back into humans. They open a restaurant together.
It’s a love story, but it’s also a story about a girl who, yes, falls in love and achieves her goals as well.
Akeelah Anderson, Akeelah and the Bee
Akeelah Anderson (KeKe Palmer) is a 11-year-old spelling extraordinaire. She attends Crenshaw Middle School. She signs up for the Crenshaw Schoolwide Spelling Bee and wins. Her principal introduces her to his college friend, English professor Dr. Joshua Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), but he refuses to coach her for the National Spelling Bee because she’s rude to him.
She trains for the regionals on her own. She misses a word and is disqualified. Nevertheless, she’s advances to the national level after her sister catches another finalist cheating.
Eventually, she studies with Dr. Larabee, secretly after her mother (Angela Bassett) forbids her from competing due to her slipping grades.
Eventually, her mother and community come around. And folks around the neighborhood help her study — eventually winning the national spelling bee as a co-champion.
Dottie, “Doc McStuffins”
Dottie (Kiara Muhammad) is a little girl who decides she wants to become a doctor like her mother. Therefore, she pretends to be one by playing with toys and dolls. When she puts on her stethoscope, the toys come to life, and she diagnosis them with illnesses and helps make them feel better. She does this with help from her friends Stuffy the Dragon, Chilly the Snowman, Hallie the Hippo and Lambie the Lamb. Also, she uses “The Big Book of Boo Boos” for diagnosis.
This is make believe done the right way — having fun yet inspiring little girls to become doctors or simply passionate and career driven.
Piper Dellums, “The Color of Friendship”
She’s a young Black girl (played Shadia Simmons) living in Washington D.C. with her congressman father and their family. She’s outspoken about the South African apartheid, which oppresses the Black South Africans.
She’s excited about playing host to the African exchange program, but when the exchange student gets there, she’s a White girl named Mahree Bok (Lindsey Haun), which leads to opposing political views.
Dellums tells Bok how disappointed she is with her for being rude to she and her family. Eventually, Bok comes around and begins to learn more about the apartheid’s true colors.
The ladies grew close overtime and really good friends. In this Disney show, Dellums teaches Bok about friendship, liberation, freedom and real equality for all.
Dorinda,Galleria, Chanel and Aqua, “The Cheetah Girls”
The Cheetah Girls exemplified not only talent, but girls from a “mixture” of backgrounds coming together for the purpose of sharing a dream to become superstars.
Galleria (Raven Symone) is the leader of the group. She’s serious and focused on the group’s success… maybe a little too much. Nevertheless, she’s an ambitious girl who learns she needs her friends to make her dreams come true.
Zuri Ross, “Jessie”
Zuri Ross (Skai Jackson) is the youngest child of the Ross family. She was adopted from Uganda at birth. She’s an imaginative little girl.
She shares a special bond with her three siblings and their nanny Jessie (Debby Ryan).
She’s usually sassy and mischievous yet is a very sweet little girl.
As the Disney series progresses, she begins to grow up a little — letting go of her imaginary friends.
She’s a fashionable little girl with a lovable, creative and humorous personality.
Overall, she’s a role model for little girls just being little girls.
Susie Carmichael, “Rugrats”
Susie (voiced by Cree Summer) might be used as a foil for Angelica, but she’s quite the positive role model for the younger babies and (young Black girls).
Technically, Susie and Angelica are friends, but she doesn’t like when she picks on the younger children.
Susie is kind, outspoken and talented. The little girl can sing too!
Although, she grew up in “All Grown Up,” her attitude remained positive and moral code never changed.
Tia and Tamera, “Sister, Sister”
Tia and Tamera played themselves, but separated at birth. Both girls were adopted. Tia has a mother named Lisa (Jackee Harry) and Tamera, a father named Ray (Tim Reid). Both families move in together.
The twins differ in nature.
Tia is responsible, mature and highly intelligent.
Tamera is more rebellious, impulsive and fun-loving.
Despite their differences, the twins are long-lost sisters who love each other and their family dearly.
They are role models for representing sisterhood.
Before Tiana, there was Brandy as Cinderella. In a way, Brandy was a real-life Cinderella. She became famous after her debut album became a success in the mid-1990s.
She was marketed as being Black America’s sweetheart and a role model for Black girls.
She starred in the re-telling of Cinderella — bringing both her acting chops, which she developed from starring on “Thea” and “Moesha,” and her singing skills as well.
Also, she lived out her dream of working with her role model and mentor Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother.
Now how cool is that?!