From Pioneers to Icons: The Inspiring Journeys of Black Actresses Over 50


It’s time to celebrate the remarkable journeys of the amazing black actresses over 50 who have blazed trails and transformed into true icons in the entertainment industry.

From the legendary Cicely Tyson to the incomparable Angela Bassett, these remarkable women have reshaped perceptions of beauty, success, and excellence in the entertainment industry, proving that talent knows no age limit.

Join us on an inspiring exploration of powerhouse black actresses over 50 as we highlight the obstacles they faced and how they’ve inspired the next generation.

Angela Bassett

With her extraordinary talent, powerful onscreen presence, and a career spanning decades depicting strong, independent women, Angela Bassett has solidified her place as one of the most influential black actresses over 50 in Hollywood.

Born on August 16, 1958, in New York City, Angela grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, raised by her single mother. On an academic scholarship, she attended Yale University, where she earned degrees in African-American studies and a Master of Fine Arts.

Angela Bassett’s rise to fame came with her portrayal of Tina Turner in the biopic “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” for which she received an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

“Don’t settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Then, whether it fails or succeeds, at least you know you gave all you had. We need to live the best that’s in us.”

Angela Bassett

Notable works:

  • “What’s Love Got to Do with It” (1993)
  • “Waiting to Exhale” (1995)
  • “Malcolm X” (1992)
  • “Black Panther” (2018)
  • “American Horror Story” (TV series, since 2011)

Viola Davis

With her tremendous talent and undeniable presence, Viola Davis is best known for her remarkable performances, often bringing complex, multidimensional characters to life.

Born on August 11, 1965, in South Carolina, Viola Davis grew up in extreme poverty. Despite witnessing domestic abuse, being the target of bullying, and living in a one-room house with no indoor plumbing, Viola excelled academically and pursued her passion for acting, ultimately graduating from the Julliard School.

Viola Davis’s portrayal of Aibileen Clark in “The Help” garnered critical acclaim and her role as Annalise Keating in the TV series “How to Get Away with Murder” has further solidified her status as a powerhouse actress.    

“My biggest discovery was that you can literally re-create your life. You can redefine it. You don’t have to live in the past. I found that not only did I have fight in me, I had love.”

Viola Davis, Finding Me

Notable works:

  • “Fences” (2016), Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
  • “Doubt” (2008)
  • “The Help” (2011)
  • TV Series “How to Get Away with Murder” (2014-2020)
  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (2020), Academy Award nomination for Best Actress

Cicely Tyson

Best known for her sense of style, Cicely Tyson was an extraordinary actress and an iconic figure who shattered barriers for black women in the entertainment industry, maintaining an illustious career well after the age of 50.

Born in Harlem, New York City, in 1924, Cicely Tyson grew up in a modest household, but her talent and resilience would propel her to become one of the most celebrated actresses of her time. Despite facing numerous rejections early in her career due to racial prejudice and limited opportunities for black actors, Tyson persevered, becoming a beacon of hope and representation for women of color.

Cicely Tyson is best known for her roles in groundbreaking films and television shows such as “Sounder” (1972), where she portrayed a strong and resilient mother, earning her an Academy Award nomination, as well as her critically acclaimed portrayal of Harriet Tubman in the TV film “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” (1974). She also made history by being the first black actress to star in a television drama series, “East Side/West Side,” in 1963.

“Whatever good I have accomplished as an actress I believe came in direct proportion to my efforts to portray Black women who have made positive contributions to my heritage.”

Cicely Tyson

Other notable works:

  • “The Help” (2011)
  • TV series “How to Get Away with Murder” (2015-2020)
  • “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” (2005)
  • “Because of Winn Dixie” (2005)

Vivica A. Fox

By consistently pushing boundaries, Vivica A. Fox has become an inspiration for the next generation of minority actors, proving that age and race won’t get in the way of achieving success and making a mark in the industry.

Born in South Bend, Indiana, Vivica is proud of her Native American and African-American descent. She pursued her passion for performing from a young age, attending Golden West College and earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences.

Vivica A. Fox has portrayed a wide range of characters, from feisty and strong-willed to vulnerable and compassionate, leaving a lasting impact on audiences. She’s best known for her groundbreaking roles in movies like “Independence Day” and “Set It Off,” both of which showcased her remarkable talent and charismatic presence on screen.

“I don’t like to see projects that are all black or all white. It’s how life is. I do like to make sure that I do a nice black family film; that’s like keeping my home base. I do other things, but I like to always come back to a positive family film because of all the negative influences today.”

Vivica A. Fox

Additional notable works:

  • “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” (2003)
  • “Idle Hands” (1999)
  • “Soul Food” (1997)
  • “Set It Off” (1996)
  • TV show “Empire” (2015-2020)  

More Phenomenal Black Actresses over 50

We’ve only shared a handful of the iconic black actresses of 50. There are so many more to honor and celebrate, including the following gorgeous and talented pioneers and icons.

  • Alfre Woodard
  • Vanessa Williams
  • Halle Berry
  • Robin Givens
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Pam Grier
  • Diana Ross
  • Janet Jackson
  • Debbi Morgan
  • Octavia Spencer
  • Phylicia Rashad

Learn About Beautiful Black Actresses Over 50 and More!

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