In an industry that men have long dominated, Hollywood has switched up its tactics over the past few years with more opportunities for women than ever before. As an actress, writer, and producer based in Los Angeles, I get inspired by fellow female artists leading the way in film and TV.
This February, honoring Black History Month, I cannot think of a better time to share the inspirational works of a few of many women of color leading the way in Hollywood. While one article alone is certainly not enough to cover all those that deserve to be mentioned in this piece, here are a few top females of inspiring color women of all ethnicities to pursue and carve their paths in the arts and entertainment industry.
One word: Euphoria. Former Disney star turned Golden Globe and Emmy winner, lead actress, executive producer, and music performer, Zendaya is a powerhouse of talents spanning multiple creative mediums and character abilities. Not only is she an unbelievably talented actress and artist, but the 26-year-old star also has over 167M followers on Instagram, making Zendaya a very positive role model for young adults and up-and-coming stars out there watching.
Popularly known as the showrunner and creator of the hit show Grey’s Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes is an American television screenwriter, producer, author, and founder of the production company, Shondaland. With a plethora of awards and accolades given for her work, Rhimes has inspired female creativity to shine off-camera and behind the scenes in the written and production side of the industry.
I remember first hearing about Issa Rae in a Masterclass course I was taking online. As a content creator myself for over 15 years, I was inspired by her work to write, produce, and star in her web series. That web series was called “Awkward Black Girl,” becoming a hit on YouTube and later picked up by HBO Max. This turned into taking off into its full-fledged series titled, “Insecure,” and later producing “Rap Sh!t.” A leader and proof to not wait for the door of opportunity to come knocking but to create your own door — and build the house to go with it.
Zoe Saldana has appeared in four of the six highest grossing films of all time, achieving a feat that no other performer had prior. Staring in roles across various genres, Saldana is best known for her work in science fiction films. With poise and posture as a former ballerina, it’s an incredibly inspiring reading of women breaking barriers in achievements with grace, a level head, and a warm heart.
Viola Davis, one of the greatest working actresses of today, has taken home an Oscar, an Emmy, and two Tonys to fiercely back up that statement. Add to that credible list, now a Grammy after the 2023 award show! That’s a variety of acting awards in film, television, theatre, and music to those not in the language know — not an easy feat to span such a variety of mediums as an actor. Her roles are profound and empowering, taking on the fiercely independent female and more complicated roles with characters of depth. There’s no shying away from raw emotion with Davis, and indeed an actress of incredible talent and is in demand in Hollywood.
Do you have a favorite in film and television? Who is it? And, what inspires you from her masterpiece? Sharing your thoughts as it inspires me and others reading. Thank you for your contribution.