American actress, Zoe Saldana, is best known for starring in fantasy-adventure films like Star Trek, Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which were massive worldwide hits. She faced flak in 2016 when she used skin-darkening makeup to play jazz musician Nina Simone in the biopic Nina, which led to debates about colour bias in society.
Best known for playing real-life black women in biopics, Angela Bassett does not mind being typecast as someone who often plays biographical roles. She has portrayed prominent personalities like Tina Turner, Betty Shabazz, Katherine Jackson, and Coretta Scott King. Also a director, producer, and activist, Angela Bassett works toward bettering the lives of African-Americans.
Halle Berry is one of the most popular actresses of the current generation. During the 2000s, she was one of the highest-paid Hollywood actresses. Halle is also known for her activism for which she was honored with the 2006 Woman of The Year award by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. She also gets featured in several Sexiest Women lists.
Actress, comedian, and writer Mindy Kaling first gained international fame with her work in the NBC sitcom, The Office, for which she was nominated for several Primetime Emmy Awards. She earned a bachelor's degree in playwriting before beginning her career. As the child of immigrants from India, she is one of the few Indian-American women active in the industry.
A popular American actress, Gabrielle Union has been vocal about violence against women and issues pertaining to women's health. Also a writer, she has released a memoir and a children's book. In 2020, she was named in Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world list. Gabrielle Union has been an inspiration for women like Oprah Winfrey.
American actress, Kerry Washington, attained fame when she starred in the television series, Scandal, which ran from 2012 to 2018. She was also commended for her role in the television film, Confirmation, and for the miniseries, Little Fires Everywhere. She has also acted in films like The Last King of Scotland, Django Unchained, Our Song, The Dead Girl and American Son.
A critically acclaimed and award-winning actress, Thandie Newton is also an activist—she led a flash mob in 2013 for gender equality and justice. An actress with an affinity for Buddhism, Thandie was named Sexiest Vegan of 2014 by PETA. During the 2019 New Year Honours, she was appointed OBE for services to charity and film.
Tracee Ellis Ross is an actress and TV host best known for her performance in TV series like Girlfriends and Black-ish. One of the few actresses to sport a distinguishable curly hairstyle, Tracee owns a hair-care line called Pattern Beauty, which is exclusively meant for curly hair.
16 Danai Gurira
17 Erykah Badu
Widely regarded as the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu is an American singer-songwriter whose debut studio album Baduizm helped popularize neo-soul in the late-1990s. Thanks to her popularity, Erykah Badu serves as a subject for street art in several places, including Greater London, England. Also an actress, Badu has appeared in popular films, such as The Cider House Rules.
Amongst the best-selling recording artists of all time and an inspiration to millions of budding artists, Whitney Houston achieved stardom with her eponymous debut album. The success of her later albums consolidated her position and earned her a spot in the Guinness World Records as the most awarded female artist of all time. She struggled with drug abuse and troubled marriage and died of drowning in her hotel's bathtub.
An actress, screenwriter, producer, and businesswoman, Jada Pinkett Smith is a woman who dons many hats. Entering the entertainment world in the 1990s as an actress, she quickly cemented her place in Hollywood and soon branched out into production as well. An ambitious lady, she also runs her own music company and fashion label.
R&B and hip-hop singer Teyana Taylor gained fame with MTV's My Super Sweet 16. She signed with Kanye West’s label and also appeared on the reality show Teyana and Iman, with her husband, NBA player Iman Shumpert. In December 2020, she announced her retirement from music through Instagram.
Queen Latifah is an American musician and actress whose song U.N.I.T.Y. played a major role in raising awareness about women's rights worldwide. Dubbed Queen of Jazz-Rap, Latifah has influenced several soul, R&B, and hip-hop artists like Remy Ma, Lil' Kim, Ivy Queen, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and Eve among other artists. As an actress, Latifah has won several prestigious awards.
22 Diana Ross
With several prestigious honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, under her belt, Diana Ross is one of the most popular and influential singers of all time. In 1976, Billboard named her the Female Entertainer of the Century. She has influenced popular artists like Madonna, Beyoncé, and Michael Jackson.
Lupita Nyong'o is one of the most popular black actresses of all time. The first Kenyan-Mexican actress to receive the prestigious Academy Award, Lupita Nyong'o has often been named in lists, such as the world's most beautiful woman. In 2020, she was named by Forbes magazine as one of Africa's 50 Most Powerful Women.
24 Yara Shahidi
25 Robin Givens
Robin Givens is an American model and actress whose professional life during the late-1980s was overshadowed by her violent marriage to Mike Tyson. Subsequently, their acrimonious divorce drew considerable media attention as Givens claimed physical abuse, with Tyson admitting to punching her in the face.
26 Regina Hall
27 Willow Smith
The daughter of popular American actors, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, Willow Smith has established herself as a singer-songwriter and rapper. Mentored by rapper Jay-Z, Smith became the youngest artist to be signed to the former's label Roc Nation in 2010. In 2019, she came out as bisexual and expressed her desire to be in a polyamorous relationship.
28 Cicely Tyson
29 Aisha Tyler
Aisha Tyler is credited with co-founding an all-female a cappella group called Dartmouth Rockapellas, which aimed at spreading social awareness through music. She later became a prominent actress, playing important roles in popular TV series like Criminal Minds and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Aisha Tyler is also an ardent advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ rights.
Gabourey Sidibe is an American actress best known for her portrayal of Claireece Precious Jones in the 2009 drama film Precious, an adaptation of a novel titled Push, for which Sidibe received critical acclaim and nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award. Since then, she has contributed to the success of several TV series.
31 Wanda Sykes
Wanda Sykes is an American actress, writer, and comedian. In 2004, Sykes was named in Entertainment Weekly magazine's list of 25 funniest people in America. Also known for her role as an activist, Sykes has been emceeing fundraisers and hosting events to tackle issues concerning same-sex marriages. She is also an ardent supporter of the Ruth Ellis Center.
32 Leslie Jones
Alfre Woodard is an American actress. Considered one of the most accomplished and versatile actresses of her generation, Woodard was named in The New York Times' The 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century list in 2020. Also a political activist, Woodard is credited with founding Artists for a New South Africa, which aims at advancing equality in South Africa.
35 Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer is an American actress, television personality, and singer. In 2019, she was recognized by Time magazine as one of the 100 celebrities who are shaping the future of health, entertainment, business, politics, and more. Palmer, who has been open about her struggle with depression and anxiety, supports movements, such as Black Lives Matter.
Amandla Stenberg is an American singer and actress. An openly gay actress who identifies as non-binary, Stenberg is popular for voicing her opinion on cultural appropriation among other sensitive topics. A self-proclaimed intersectional feminist, Amandla Stenberg was named in Time magazine's Most Influential Teens list in 2015 and 2016. She was also named in Oprah Winfrey's SuperSoul 100 list.
37 Donna Summer
38 Sanaa Lathan
40 Mel B
Mel B is an English television personality and singer-songwriter. She gained international recognition as part of the popular pop girl group Spice Girls, which has sold more than 85 million records. Over the years, Mel B has been an important TV personality, appearing in several reality series as a participant as well as a judge.
42 Meagan Good
Meagan Good is an American model and actress. After starting her career as a child artist, Meagan Good went on to establish herself as an actress in the entertainment industry. Over the years, she has contributed to the success of TV series, such as Deception and Minority Report. In 2014, she also contributed to the bestselling book Gentlewoman.
47 Skai Jackson
From starting acting at age 5 to being one of TIME's Most Influential Teens, Skai Jackson has come a long way. She amazed audiences with her roles in Jessie and BUNK’D and later thrilled her fans on Dancing with the Stars. An anti-bullying activist, Skai has also written her memoir.
49 Uzo Aduba
Nicole Beharie is an American actress who has played important roles in films like American Violet, Shame, 42, and Monsters and Men. For her portrayal of Turquoise Jones in the 2020 critically acclaimed drama film Miss Juneteenth, Beharie won a Gotham Independent Film Award. Also known for her TV work, Beharie has played prominent roles in series like Sleepy Hollow.