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Why Hollywood Needs More (Black) Leading Ladies

By Abdul Ali | Indiewire February 24, 2013 at 5:21PM

Nothing makes you shift in your seat at the cinema more than a brilliantly-acted scene by a leading lady. However, African American actresses with star power are too often relegated to supporting roles. For your viewing pleasure, we’d like to honor the many hard-working, Black leading ladies in the industry with this gallery of short clips featuring powerful Oscar-nominated Black actresses.
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Viola Davis

Nothing makes you shift in your seat at the cinema more than a brilliantly-acted scene by a leading lady. However, African American actresses with star power are too often relegated to supporting roles. For your viewing pleasure, we’d like to honor the many hard-working, Black leading ladies in the industry with this gallery of short clips featuring powerful Oscar-nominated Black actresses.

Oprah Winfrey as Sofia in "The Color Purple" (1985)

Staff favorite line: "I ain't never thought I had to fight in my own house."


Viola Davis as the Mayor in "Law Abiding Citizen" (2009)

Staff favorite line: “Get this situation under control, gentlemen.”


Octavia Spencer as Minnie in "The Help" (2011)

Staff favorite line: “I got to come up with your questions, too?”


What’s your favorite scene/line performed by an outstanding African American starlet? We’d love to hear it in the comments.

For more great work from Black actresses, XFINITY On Demand™ features Dorothy Dandridge's "Carmen Jones." Learn more, and join the celebration of Black entertainment at xfinity.com/celebrateblacktv.

Editor’s Note: Throughout Black History Month and beyond, Shadow and Act will partner with XFINITY to celebrate Black entertainment. XFINITY is creating a unique digital community built around the love of Black entertainment at xfinity.com/celebrateblacktv. Shadow and Act hopes to enrich this community and provide a launching pad for insightful discussion. Look to Shadow and Act for features and content examining and exploring key themes and topics that run throughout the history of Black entertainment.

This article is related to: Xfinity Celebrate Black TV, Viola Davis, Oprah Winfrey, Octavia Spencer


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