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The Most Influential Black Actresses

African-American actresses have struggled for generations to become visible in Hollywood. For a long time, black actors would only be seen in roles in which they serve white people. Over time,  some actresses were able to break those barriers and captivate the hearts of their audience, no matter what their skin color.

These women inspired generations of future actresses of color and showed them if Hollywood doesn’t have a part for you, then create one. The slide show below honors the few black actresses who have made history with their ability to tell a story.

Photo Credits

Hattie McDaniel, AP

Lena Horne, AP

Dorothy Dandridge, AP

Cicely Tyson,AP

Ruby Dee,AP

Diahann Carroll,AP

Phylicia Rashad,AP photographer: Peter Kramer

Angela Bassett,AP photographer: Nick Ut

Halle Berry,AP photographer: Matt Sayles

Viola Davis,AP photographer: Evan Agostini


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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.