Past & Present: 20 Bad-Ass Black Womxn In TV History You Should Know.

Who are your favorite Womxn of Color in TV History? Taste ATL: The Series  is celebrating the womxn who have influenced us through television and media for Womxn’s History Month!  Let’s #breakthescreen and show off the magically melanated womxn who paved the way and continue to for Womxn of Color!

1. Lyshae Rollins.

Lyshae Rollins (she/her) is a multi-faceted entertainer and producer paving the way for QWOC in TV! Originally from the South side of Chicago, she is a powerhouse of talent. Music artist, writer, Director, and CEO of Rollins Mediaverse are just a few of the many hats she wears. Rollins latest production Taste ATL: The Series was inspired from her early days on the Atlanta LGBTQ scene where she currently resides.

“I’m like a slow jam on the right beat.” Lyshae Rollins

2. Phylica Rashad.

Phylicia Rashad (Singer, Actor, Director, Humanitarian). Rashad, who received Emmy Award nominations in 1985 and 1986 for her role as Claire Huxtable on The Cosbys has been dubbed the “Mother of the Black Community.” She was the First Black Actress to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role in “A Raisin in the Sun.” That same role earned her the NAACP Image Award. Let’s give it up for for Phylica Rashad y’all!

“There’s always something to suggest that you’ll never be who you wanted to be. Your choice is to take it or keep on moving.” Phylica Rashad

3. Wanda Sykes.

Wanda Sykes is a Comedian, Actor, Writer, and Producer born in Portsmouth, VA. Sykes won the Primetime Emmy Award for her work as a writer on the Chris Rock Show and in 2004 was named as one of the 25 Funniest People in America by Entertainment Weekly.

“If life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make pink lemonade. Be unique.” Wanda Sykes

4. Viola Davis.

Actor and Producer Viola Davis was the first Black Womxn to receive the “Triple Crown of Acting” by earning an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Tony Awards. In 2017 Davis was named in the 100 Most Influential people in the world by Time Magazine.

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” —Viola Davis

During her speech at 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

5. Tessa Thompson.

Tessa Lynn Thomspon was born and raised in Los Angeles California and later moved to Brookyln, NY . Thompson is know for her roles in Thor, Creed, and Veronica Mars and earning a NAACP Theatre Award nomination for her performance in Romeo & Juliet. Acting isn’t her only talent as she produced a song for the original film “Dear White People” which she also starred in.

“Media truly has the power to create and shift culture.” Tessa Thompson

6. Queen Latifah.

Queen Latifah is an icon in the early hip-hop game as well as a talented actress and producer. We loved her in Set it Off (1996) where she played the “gay” role of Cleo—validating all of our queer, black hearts.

“When I was around 18, I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You’re either going to love yourself or hate yourself.’ And I decided to love myself. That changed a lot of things.” Queen Latifah

7. Kerry Washington.

Actor, Producer, and Director Kerry Washington was born in Brooklyn, NY. She took primetime television by storm when she killed the role of Olivia Pope on Scandal. Washington was twice nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and once for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama. She also earned a nomination for both the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film. For the Lesbos in the room: If you haven’t watched She Hate Me (2004) you’re sure to get your on-screen fix because she has one of the HOTTEST Lesbian scenes the big screen has to offer. You can thank us now.

“You can be the lead in your own life.” Kerry Washington

8. Debbie Allen.

Debbie Allen (Actor, Producer, Director, Dancer) is a former member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and Founder of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, CA. She has earned three Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, five NAACP Image Awards, a Drama Desk, an Astaire Award (for Best Dancer), and the Olivier Award. She holds four honorary Doctorate degrees and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

“But out of limitations comes creativity.” Debbie Allen

9. Dominique Jackson.

Dominique Jackson is a Trans-Rights Activist, Actress, Author, & Model. Dominique Jackson is most know for her commanding role as Elektra on the TV Series Pose. In 2020, she won the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Award.

“You will not tell me that you accept me. You will not tell me that you tolerate me. That is not your power. I take that from you. You will respect me for who I am.” Dominique Jackson

10. Lena Waithe.

Producer, Screen Writer & Actor Lena Waithe is truly an inspiration to womxn of color in tv and film. Born in Chicago, IL, she is the first Black Woman to win the PrimeTime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy series. In 2018, Waithe was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

“Being born gay, black, and female is not a revolutionary act. Being proud to be a gay black female is.” Lena Waithe

11. Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o studied film at Hampshire College, Massachusetts and, after working as a production assistant, graduated from the Yale School of Drama’s acting program. She’s known for her roles in 12 Years a Slave, Black Panther, and MTV’s Shuga.

“Part of being an artist is that you are always concerned you don’t have what it takes. It… keeps us honest.” Lupita Nyong’o

12. Issa Rae.

Actor, Writer, and Producer Issa Rae first caught our attention with the YouTube series Awkward Black Girl and has been killing it ever since! She received multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her Hit TV Show Insecure. Rae is an inspiration to black womxn in film everywhere!

“Diversity is still a huge issue. We need more people of color in positions of power to green light content. If you want to see content of color, then it has to be in the hands of people of color.” Issa Rae

13. Dominique Boyd.

Artist and TV Producer Dominique Boyd was born & raised in Memphis, Tennessee. Throughout her career, Boyd has worked with OWN, TV One, Fox, Oxygen, Lifetime, Discovery, and WETV. She is the Co-Creator of Breaking Sh!t which produces Melanated Mental & Emotional Health Content and the short films Idea of Me and PMS.

“Chase the dream, Not the Money.” Dominique Boyd

14. Pam Grier.

Actress Pam Grier played the leading lady in Action Films such as Jack Hill’s Coffy and Foxy Brown. She was nominated for a Golden Globe and an NAACP Image Award for her performance in Jacki Brown. Grier also played in the LGBTQ series The L-Word as “Kit Porter,” Bette Porter’s sister.

“My grandfather was the first feminist in my life. He taught me if a woman can do something, a man will respect her.” Pam Grier

15. Laverne Cox

Trans Actress , LGBTQ Advocate, and Writer Laverne Cox was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in any acting category and the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of Time and Cosmopolitan Magazine, South Africa Edition.

Laverne Cox is most recently known for her role on Orange is the New Black when she played Sophia, a nurse in a Women’s Prison.

“It’s important with all of the messages that might tell you otherwise that you have that in yourself to say that ‘I am beautiful. I am smart and I’m amazing.’” Laverne Cox

16. Brianca Williams.

Brianca Williams was born in Tennessee and raised in the Bay Area. She is currently under the mentorship of Hillman Grad Productions and works as an intern with Lena Waithe. Williams is passionate about Black Lives Matter, Reclaim the Block, & Color of Change.

“When I realized how much power I had in manifesting, literally, everything I want is when the game changed.” Brianca Williams

17. Mara Brock Akil.

Mara Brock Akil began her writing career on Fox’s critically acclaimed South Central and later moved on to writing for the UPN series Moesha, where she earned her Producer title after four seasons.

Mara Akil created the UPN comedy series Girlfriends and its spin-off The Game. She later created the first drama series for BET Being Mary Jane. In 2018, she produced Black Lightning for The CW and created Love Is for the Oprah Winfrey Network. Other credits include Supervising Producer for The Jamie Foxx Show.

VIBE listed Akil on its “Top 100 Hottest People List” and Honey magazine named her as one of the “Top 25 Hottest Women in Urban Entertainment.”

“If you want something, work hard for it, go after it. I can’t worry about all the ‘no’s, because I believe there’s a yes, and I’ve been very fortunate to find those in my career and made the most of those opportunities.” Mara Brock Akil

18. Aryka Randall

Aryka Randall is a Screenwriter/Producer from San Diego who has been involved in the entertainment industry since the age of six.

She has written a number of web series, pilots, and short films as well as produced multiple independent productions. Randall is a self starter with a passion for film, and a knack for pushing the production train from start to finish. Her current focus is screenwriting and production.

“I was in route to El Matador beach this morning, driving along the coast and though to myself ‘I don’t know how this ended up being my life but I couldn’t be more grateful’. I hope you all bet in yourselves every chance you get. Life is dope if you let it be.” Aryka Randall

19. Nakia Stephens.

Nakia Stephens is an award-winning screenwriter and independent filmmaker. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Nakia has always been influenced by Black culture and southern flair. She studied creative writing in Shanghai, Beijing, and Ghana.

Nakia’s work has been featured on Deadline, BLAVITY, ABFF, Rolling Out Magazine, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and Black Girls Rock! Her recent work includes a development deal with Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s cable network, aspireTV and is the creator of Damn Write Originals, a screenwriting label.

“Hollywood’s a tough nut to crack…because of marginal diversity.” Nakia Stephens

20. Cicely Tyson.


Actress + Fashion Model Cicely Tyson was born in Harlem, NY and passed away January 28, 2021. Tyson’s career spanned more than seven decades and she became known for her portrayal of strong African-American women in her roles. She received three Primetime Emmy Awards, four Black Reel Awards, one Screen Actors Guild Award, one Tony Award, an honorary Academy Award, a Peabody Award, the Outer Critics Award, and the Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Play in 2013. In 2016, Tyson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States. In 2020, she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

“I think when you begin to think of yourself as having achieved something, then there’s nothing left for you to work towards. I want to believe that there is a mountain so high that I will spend my entire life striving to reach the top of it.” Cicely Tyson

Happy Womxn’s History Month from Edible Wordz! Special thanks to our partner Taste ATL: The Series for Celebrating Womxn’s History Month with your favorite space for QWOC: Edible Wordz by Lezcronymz!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s