Last month, I wrote a piece for EBONY.com titled, “Dorothy Forever,” in which I reflected on the late Dorothy Dandridge and why she deserves more credit than she gets. I admire Dorothy, but I’m also aware that plenty of other black actresses and singers paved the way for women of color today. So, I thought it would be fun to start a series of posts dedicated to ALL the black female icons who played in a significant role not only in black America but in American culture as well.
Before Beyoncé and Rihanna, we had:
Diahann Carroll July 17, 1935 – still alive and as fierce as can be!
- Carroll was the first black woman to star in her own TV series where she didn’t play a domestic worker, Julia in 1968.
- She was also the first black woman to win a Tony Award for best actress in 1963 for her role in the musical, No Strings.
Josephine Baker June 3, 1906 – April 12, 1975
- Baker was the first black woman to appear in a major motion picture, Zouzou in 1934.
- She was also the first black woman to integrate an American concert hall and to become a world-famous entertainer.
And of course, Dorothy Dandridge November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965
- Dandridge was the first Black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Carmen Jones in 1954.
- She was also the first Black woman to grace the cover of Life Magazine.
Stay tuned next week for part 2 of the “Bow Down … Dedicated to ALL Those Who Came Before Us ” series.