Television is entering a unique moment. There are more Black people on TV than ever before, according to Deadline, and the numbers continue to increase. For Black women, in particular, this means we get an array of characters we relate to. We no longer have to look to one Black female character to represent us all. Instead, we, like White women, have multiple characters to choose from.
Here are some of our favorites.
Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon
Cookie Lyon is the ultimate hustler. After spending 18 years in prison, the queen of the Lyon Dynasty is determined to stake her claim as the sole heiress of Empire Records. Her stylish clothes, witty one-liners, and refusal to be silenced make Cookie a fan favorite.
Viola Davis as Annalise Keating
Annalise Keating is the manipulative ringleader on How to Get Away with Murder. She’s cold, calculating, and willing to undercut anyone to get ahead. Yet, Keating is very vulnerable. It’s these dimensions that make her one of the most complex women on television.
Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren
Crazy Eyes is one of the most compelling characters on Orange is the New Black. It’s still unclear why Crazy Eyes is locked up in the Litchfield correctional facility, but she’s so entertaining that her lack of a backstory doesn’t detract from her character. There’s a level of sadness to Crazy Eyes that keeps viewers invested in her.
Gabrielle Union as Mary Jane Paul
Mary Jane Paul is one of the most relatable black women on television. She’s grappling with multiple tensions in her life, including work, family, and friendship, and she often fails. Yet, Paul never gives up, even as life deals her blow after blow.
Tracee Ellis-Ross as Rainbow Johnson
Rainbow Johnson is the matriarch of the blackish’s Johnson clan. Her funky fashion sense, ability to parent well, and booming career makes Rainbow a great television character.
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
Wine, popcorn, and drama are always on Olivia Pope’s menu. The brilliant crisis manager is forever fixing her clients’ lives while her life remains in shambles. Pope resonates so much with black women because we are rooting for her to succeed, if only she’d get out of her own way.
Naturi Naughton as Tasha St. Patrick
Tasha St. Patrick is the ride-or-die wife of James St. Patrick on Starz’s Power. She’s the brains behind their successful drug empire and isn’t afraid to remind her husband of her brilliance. Tasha is ruthless and coldhearted, but she’s also a woman scorned. Those three characteristics make her a bomb waiting to explode … and many black women are here for it.
Marsai Martin as Diane Johnson
Diane brings the humor to blackish. She might be six, but Diane has the wittiness, sass, and wisdom of a grown woman. The youngest member of the Johnson clan is brutally honest, even when it hurts her twin brother and older siblings’ feelings. She’s always plotting, which makes her the funniest kid on television.