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From Gail Fisher to Aretha Franklin: 8 (More) Badass Black Girls in Entertainment

Dear Badass Black Girl,

Last week, I introduced you to 8 Badass Black Girls in Entertainment.

Here are 8 more Badass Trailblazers (1970–1989) that you should absolutely get to know:

In 1970, Gail Fisher was the first Black American woman to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Mannix. She was also the first Black actress to win a Golden Globe Award for her work on the same show, but she didn’t just win one Golden Globe. She won two.

Trina Parks starred in 1971’s Diamonds are Forever as Thumper, the first ever Black James Bond girl. A talented singer and dancer as well as an actress, Parks also helped to choreograph the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, The Wiz.

In 1972, Vinnette Justine Carroll became the first Black American woman Broadway director for the musical Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope. She was also the first Black woman to win a Tony Award nomination for directing that musical and remained the only Black woman nominated for a Tony for direction until 2016.

Following Trina Parks’ role as James Bond’s badass nemesis, Gloria Hendry played the Bond girl Rosie Carver in Live and Let Die in 1973. She was the first Black actress to portray Bond’s love interest. When the film aired in South Africa, which was still under apartheid at the time, all the love scenes between Parks and Roger Moore were edited out of the film.

In 1982, Debra Austin became the first Black American woman to become a principal dancer for a major American ballet company, the Pennsylvania Ballet. She was also the first Black female principal dancer in the New York City Ballet.

In the 90s, Oprah Winfrey became the first woman to own and produce her own talk show, the highest rated show of its kind of all time. Winfrey is also North America’s first Black billionaire!

Vanessa Williams, representing New York in 1983, became the first Black woman crowned as Miss America. When nude photos were leaked to the press and Williams stepped down, runner-up Suzette Charles, who represented New Jersey and was also a Black American, assumed the title. Three additional Black Americans have been crowned Miss America: Debbye Turner in 1990, Marjorie Vincent in 1991, and Kimberly Aiken in1994.

In 1987, Aretha Franklin became the first Black American woman and first woman of any race to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Find more Badass Trailblazers in Entertainment from Badass Black Girl: Quotes, Questions, and Affirmations for Teens.

Publishers Weekly Select Title for Young Readers ─ A Daily Dose of Inspiration for Badass Black Girls

Explore the many facets of your identity through hundreds of big and small questions. MJ Fievre tackles topics such as family and friends, school and careers, body image, and stereotypes in this journal designed for teenage girls. By reflecting on these topics, readers confront the issues that can hold them back from living their lives.

Embrace authenticity and celebrate who you are. Finding the courage to live as you are is not easy, so here’s a journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, self-motivation, and positive self-awareness. This journal celebrates girl power and honors the strength and spirit of black girls.

Change the way you view the world. This journal provides words of encouragement that seek not just to inspire, but to ignite discussion and debate about the world. Girls, especially, are growing up in a world that tries to tell them how to look and act. MJ Fievre encourages readers to fight the flow and determine for themselves who they want to be.

  • Build and boost your self-esteem with powerful affirmations.

  • Learn more about yourself through intensive and insightful journaling.

  • Resist the mold that outside opinions have put into place, and become comfortable and confident in embracing your authentic self.


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