As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, it’s time to credit dynamic female characters that helped define the black woman in America. Because there are many compelling black women characters, I tried my best to focus on the ones that paved the way for other black actresses. Meaning, the character opened a door for better black roles in their field. So here is WOW’s Top 10 Black Women Characters on TV!
10. Wilhelmina Slater – Ugly Betty
Vanessa William’s was born to play this role. Not only was Slater the more smart-mouthed version of Miranda Presley, but she had a heart in the end. She was basically the sole-executive of MODE and had to rein in constant chaos that always seemed to appear daily.
9. Rainbow Johnson – Blackish
When it comes down to it, Rainbow is always the voice of reason. She’s the more liberal side of her and Dre and truly believes her kids could grow up in a colorless society. She’s the positive millennial mom all of us need.
8. Clair Huxtable – The Cosby Show
The elegantly tough, engaging wife of Cliff always had a way of stealing the scene. As a lawyer, she rarely lost an argument and was known throughout the show for her singing ability and silly nature. She was the renaissance woman of mid-80s and we won’t forget it.
7. Nyota Uhura – Star Trek
The translator and communications officer of the Enterprise, Uhura was one of the first characters of Africa descent in a non-menial featured role. She was a force to be reckoned with and always held her ground in a spaceship surrounded by men who couldn’t care less about their comrades dying or disappearing.
6. Miranda Bailey – Grey’s Anatomy
The toughest resident in the surgical program at Seattle Grace, did not let her title stop her from whipping her interns into shape. Though at the beginning of the series she was portrayed as a demanding cold teacher, throughout the years we have seen a nurturing and vastly empathetic side that makes Miranda so special.
5. Raven Baxter – That’s So Raven
Raven Baxter was the sassy free spirited dream girl of the 90s. She was one of the most prominent character on Disney Channel at the time, and had the best one liners. Literally she was the original ‘nasty woman’, and a one who wasn’t afraid to cross uncomfortable topics, let’s all remember the runway episode where she read that women for filth who said she was “too big to be a model”. Ugh, we miss the old Raven!
4. Suzanne Warren – Orange Is The New Black
Suzanne Warren, famously known as “crazy eyes” captivated audiences with her genuine curiosity and unique look at the world. She’s developed into a vigorous spit fire that still cares about her freedom and her friends when everything in her work dis falling apart.
3. Michonne – The Walking Dead
If you haven’t seen The Walking Dead, let me just tell you, Michonne is a bad-ass. Not only is she a versatile warrior, but she’s a proven commander, and zombie killer as well. She’s hard-shelled but has a soft spot for children and people she believes to be weaker than her. She’s the apocalypse mom you never knew you needed.
2. Julia Baker – Julia
Julia Baker is one of the most important black female characters to grace the small screen. She was the FIRST lead black women of her own TV show in history, and got a lot of slack for it. Diahann Carroll who played her was ostracized from the black community as the show depicted a black woman without the systematic oppression of racism. Still, this character created a revolution that black women could helm shows by themselves.
1. Annalise Keating – How To Get Away With Murder
Viola Davis SLAYS every role she is given, but Annalise Keating serves a specific purpose from the rest. She’s calculated, honest, and doesn’t let anyone boss her around. Her character shifts constantly into different archetypes leaving the viewers really thinking, “Who is the real Ms. Keating?” and honestly we might never know. But girl, that scene where she takes off her wig to then accuse her husband of cheating is the most sickening performance we’ve seen yet!