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6 Women of Color in Supporting Roles Who Deserve to Star on Their Own Shows

These actresses have been playing second fiddle for too long. Step it up, Hollywood.

Tiffany Haddish, Tiya Sircar, Natalie Martinez, Liza Lapira

Tiffany Haddish, Tiya Sircar, Natalie Martinez, Liza Lapira

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TV trends come and go, but who would’ve thought that, with all the focus on inclusion in the past few years, there would now be an uptick of, as IndieWire’s Michael Schneider puts it, “white dudes in crisis” on TV?

To fill the diversity void, the networks have added actors of color to supporting roles. It’s heartening to see that this has created a more realistic picture on TV of what the world looks like, such as the marriage between Zach Braff’s and Tiya Sircar’s characters on “Alex Inc.” representing the growing number of mixed-race marriages in America. Unfortunately, it’s also disappointing to see so many of these favorite actresses get shunted from one supporting role to the next.

READ MORE: The 4 Worst New Fall Show Titles and How We’d Fix Them

It’s time for many of these actresses to move out of the sidekick/best friend/spouse/co-worker zone and become leading ladies in their own right. Check out our list of women who should star in their own shows, already:

Liza Lapira

Liza Lapira

Liza Lapira

Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Current Project: She plays the sister-in-law of Mark Feuerstein’s character on CBS’ “9JKL.”
Also Known From: How much time ya got? Lapira has been a forensics tech on “Law & Order: SVU,” a detective on “Dexter,” Agent Michelle Lee on “NCIS,” Ivy on “Dollhouse,” and then started a tour of supporting roles in failed shows: “Don’t Trust the B—— in Apartment 23,” “Super Fun Night,” “Battle Creek,” “Angel From Hell,” “Traffic Light,” and “Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life,” just to name a few.
Possible Starring Vehicles: Lapira has so much personality and has appeared in such a range of shows that she could tackle almost anything. We’d like to see her get a bit meta and play a successful actress on Broadway in a dramedy set in New York.

Tiya Sircar

Tiya Sircar

Tiya Sircar

Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock

Current Project: She plays the wife of Zach Braff’s character on “Alex, Inc.”
Also Known From: On “The Good Place,” she played the “real Eleanor who was perfect and good and kind,” even though that was all a sham. She also played Priya, a girl who dated Dev (Aziz Ansari) in “Master of None.” Her biggest roles were in the films “17 Again” and “The Internship.”
Possible Starring Vehicles: What about flipping the roles from her current show? Sircar should be the podcast journalist (she does great voiceover work!) or run some sort of startup venture on screen. We can see her getting in way over her head but also calling the shots and having the creative inspiration and drive to make a business hum.

Antonia Thomas

Antonia Thomas

Antonia Thomas

David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

Current Project: Thomas has a fantastic supporting role as Evie in the Netflix rom com “Lovesick,” but on network TV, she’s playing a doctor who’s not nearly as brilliant as “The Good Doctor,” as portrayed by Freddie Highmore.
Also Known From: She was one of the original young offenders who gets supernatural powers on the British sci-fi series “Misfits.”
Possible Starring Vehicles: Seeing Thomas in a lab coat under neon lights is just depressing. She doesn’t seem like someone who should be confined to the indoors that much. She gets to exhibit more range in “Lovesick,” interacting with a bunch of people in different situations. We’d love to see her in a position to travel from place to place, perhaps as writer like Cheryl Strayed.

READ MORE: Women Leads on TV Decline as Networks Discover White Dudes in Crisis

Jamie Chung

Jamie Chung

Jamie Chung

Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

Current Project: Chung plays a mutant on FOX’s not-calling-it-the-X-Men series “The Gifted.”
Also Known From: Chung is perhaps the most recognizable of the bunch thanks to her big-screen roles as the sexy wife, girlfriend, flight attendant, and more, in a variety of projects. On TV, she’s most known for her roles on”Gotham” as Valerie Vale and “Once Upon a Time” as Mulan.
Possible Starring Vehicles: Make this woman the central superhero with a wealthy alter ego and a troubled past. We already know that she can rock crazy costumes and action, but given the chance, she has also been able to bring pathos to what would normally be a stereotypical character.

Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish

Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Current Project: Haddish is Nekeisha on “The Carmichael Show” and was just added to Tracy Morgan’s TBS comedy. She also voices Tina the Brain Coral on “Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson.”
Also Known From: “Real Husbands of Hollywood” and the film “Keanu,” where she got her cat, Cat-Tonic.
Possible Starring Vehicles: Haddish needs to be free to talk as much as she wants and ad-lib when possible, plus be borderline inappropriate. Why not have her play a children’s physician?

Natalie Martinez

Natalie Martinez

Natalie Martinez

Broadimage/REX/Shutterstock

Current Project: Martinez plays a mysterious woman with surprising powers on ”The Crossing,” which stars Steve Zahn. She also has a kickass role in Audience Network’s MMA series “Kingdom.”
Also Known From: She played law enforcement in “APB,” “Under the Dome,” “CSI: NY” and “Detroit 1-8-7.”
Possible Starring Vehicles: Instead of doing the usual law enforcement roles, a starring vehicle as a bonafide action hero would really take advantage of her ability to do big fighting scenes balanced with heartbreaking emotional work. In the vein of Jack Reacher or Jennifer Garner from “Alias,” please make Martinez a badass secret agent or spy.

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