I grew up in a small town in Western Massachusetts (NOT BOSTON!) where my awkwardness was cultivated into ripe wit and sarcasm, nourished by nerd tendencies. In my hometown, it was just normal to watch TV shows and movies that we see today as “nerd.”
I liked X-men cartoons, Batman animated series and Michael Keaton, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Star Trek and had a very healthy obsession with Lord of the Rings (Yes I have watched all of the special features on the original and extended versions). My love for movies was multiplied by my love for acting. Living through characters and being a muse for others is why I breathe.
Just as nerdom was beginning to make it into ‘mainstream’ entertainment, I began to hone my love for these films and the art from, falling in love with the first Iron Man movie to my crush on the newest Spider Man. But we’re not here to shine a light on the many men, many many many men who grace these iconic nerd screens. We have seen a new day that brings hope to my heart that I could one day star in one of this epic films or TV series: an age of black girl magic realness on the big and little screens. I want to break down my top five women of color who are killin’ it in nerd entertainment.
Now these are actresses that I am able to root for, hate, love or admire, and whom, most importantly, show me the industry would hire me.
Let’s get it started.
5. Cree Summer
You gotta give it up for the original rug rat. This woman should technically not even be on this list because she created the game. She has been killing it as every character in any cartoon ever, since before I was born. You know that moment when you hear her voice and go “Oh… Susie!” She has been in 277 films and TV shows from, A Different World (Winifred ‘Freddie’ Brooks),Young Justice, Batman Brave and Bold, World of Warcraft video game, Drawn Together, Batman Arkham Asylum, Star Wars: Old Republic Knights of the Eternal Throne, Ultimate Spider-Man, Transformers: animated (2007), My Gym Partner’s a Monkey, Danny Phantom, Mass Effect, Inspector Gadget, Tiny Toons, Gargoyles, Fallout, Rugrats, Atlantis, even Pepper Ann. Just to name a few.
Besides being the founder of our past times, at 47, Cree has a potent blend of black girl magic potion, looking as flawless as she did day one on the set of A Different World.
To really round out her full career and on the fringe personality, she is a bonafide black hippie. She has two children with the names Brave Littlewing and Hero Peregrine and creates righteous 90s Alternative Rock/folk music. Touring with Lenny Kravitz – being in a band called “Subject to Change” for a bit and releasing a solo album titled Street Faërie. To top it all off her natural hair story gives all us women hope for our future in the business. In an article with “Curly Niki” she talks about her trials and tribulations with natural hair from home remedies to straighten and the failed attempts at bangs. I feel like I am on the right track to killin’ it hearing these stories.
So when she’s not in the booth recording the voices we know and love again and again, she’s show stopping Lilith Fair and raising butterfly children – it’s the best!
I wonder if her children listen to their mother’s voice when they watch TV shows like the current popular children’s show, DC Superhero girls, do they recognize her?
One thing is for sure, her and Keith David are the real mommy and daddy to our childhoods.
That sultry and raspy voice is the feeling of nostalgia and staying power gracing your ears. With that voice she is not going anywhere. Hats off to Cree for holding it down.
4. Freema Agyeman
Well known for her role as the 10th Doctor’s companion, Martha Jones on Doctor Who, Freema is someone to look out for in the Sci-Fi actor world. Apparently Freema had made a guest appearance early on in the resurgence of Doctor Who and the Producer’s loved her so much, they decided to make her the companion the very next season. Freema then reigned as companion from 2006-2010 with one of the most popular Doctor’s David Tennant. She was a badass companion to the Doctor, no offense to the many other companions (Doctor knows I love me some Amelia Pond Karen Gillan – another woman killin it) but I honestly felt like the real doctor was Martha Jones. (BBC great chance to have a black woman doctor hint hint)
She also makes appearances in Torchwood, a nerd pastime, reprising her role as Martha Jones and continuing to make appearances on Doctor Who. The fans and producers just couldn’t get enough of her!
In 2008 Wizard magazine named her the 16th sexiest women on TV, with her current role in the Netflix series Sense8, I’m sure she is climbing that list. She excites us in Sense8 as Amanita, the loving ride or die partner to Jamie Clayton’s character Nomi Marks. Besides the entrancing storyline and hot and heavy scenes, the energy she brings to that character makes you give a sexy side eye to her talent. With an impeccable American accent and electric personality on screen as always, we can look forward to seeing Freema take over with a long standing career in Sci-Fi.
3. Danai Gurira
A serious force to be reckoned with Danai is slaying multiple arenas. If I may use the current America’s Next Top Model Season anchor for success, Beauty, Brand, Boss, Danai has it all. Her black girl magic – flawless, her talent unwavering, and her mogul ability to multitask in writing, acting, producing is goddess like. From the first time she appeared in Walking dead with those two walkers chained to her command, I could not stop watching her, rooting for her and the world couldn’t stop being her for Halloween and black girl cosplayers found their muse for sure.
Then for those of us engrained in the actor world, writing the critically acclaimed piece Eclipsed a play that follows 3 women in Liberia at the height of conflict. Starting at The Public Theater it went straight to Broadway, I want to be her when I grow up. Beauty. Brand. Boss.
Nothing will show Danai’s command of our attention more, than the upcoming Black Panther movie (shooting now.) All I want to do is reserve a seat in theater’s like, yesterday. I can already see her badass reigning supreme with the rest of the beautiful humans cast in this film. Every name that gets released gives me goosebumps. The black panther movie may be the most anticipated movie, and I am a very tough critic but I do not see how this movie can fail especially with Danai on the bill. Just imagine Michonne ripping a new one into wannabe colonizers of Wakanda. Yes please!
Needless to say I am more than excited for the heights to which Danai will take these characters she is bringing to life.
2. Viola Davis
What is there not to say about this radiant woman. I have been rooting for Ms Davis and to see her getting her accolades is beautiful. She has the talent to be and do anything.
It slipped my mind that she has been in my heart since her role as Lynda P. Frazier, an artist and friend in United States of Tara (which…that whole cast has raked in awards). Then stealing the screen from Denzel in every scene of Fences. Viola is an idol you don’t want to be like, but want to learn her powers and harness them so an army of Viola Davis’ talent can take over the business. She began showing her boss nature in Ender’s Game, letting us know she was meant to be a ringleader for sure.
Her being cast as Amanda Waller is pure perfection, (not to mention the only reason to keep watching the movie all the way through, ok Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared Leto are pretty cool too.) This role was made for her like Robert Downey Jr and Tony Stark, Deadpool and Ryan Reynolds, I can’t imagine anyone else with enough gall to play her. If I borrow from the almighty RuPaul, she has the Cunning Uniqueness Nerve and Talent. As a woman of color taking roles such as Amanda Waller and Annalise Keating (How to Get Away with Murder) whose morals are “questionable” or who test the scales on what is good and what is evil, she is on the right track to EGOT (Emmy, Tony, Oscar, Grammy). She just needs to make a spoken word album or star in the next hit musical and she takes the cake. You know how Samuel Jackson has made it to the status where he can play a hero, a villain, a joe schmo and any character? As a black man in the industry that is a feat. I know Viola can do that and more – keep climbing Viola!
Now we’ve made it to my number one Woman of Color who is killin it in the nerd and actor entertainment world. This person has been shutting it down in movies and Netflix climbing her way to the top of the nerdosphere.
1. Rosario Dawson
Rosario, let me just say you have started from the bottom now we’re here. She has made it to the top of every comic, nerd, and popular casting agent’s list in the industry. Dawson must have a secure contract with Netflix to make sure she is cast in every through line of every Marvel universe series. #Rosarioistheconstant (lost reference for those who don’t know). I honestly believe it began with Men in Black. She was cast in an adventure SciFi flick next to Will Smith. now for me her performance wasn’t all the rage, but it was Men In Black, you can’t really lose. Though truth be told, we shoulda known the game was afoot when she starred in Josie and the Pussycats. Not a show stopper but, I see your tricks Dewey! Then we started to see her in unexpecting roles, Sin City? Waahh? Grindhouse?
Clerks II shut me up, then my hubby is playing video games and I hear her voice…Rosario, is that you? Once she walked in the back door of Netflix, then bought the door and changed the locks. This woman started in Daredevil, walked across lot 9 to Jessica Jones, got coffee on set with Luke Cage, to be honest, I don’t know what she can’t do at this point. She is killin it on screen, in the interwebs, AND video games.
You know, she showed her real nerd to me with her choice in partner. I know it’s real bochinchera to go this route, but what is more classic than a beautiful woman in the arms of a nerdy boy. Rosario Dawson and Eric Andre, a real Jessica and Roger Rabbit – “He Makes me Laugh” situation. I love it!
I had the pleasure of meeting her a few times, and can confidently say she is, down to earth, loves to talk, smiling all the time, just a sweet woman. If she was a jerk, I’d knock her down the list, but she deserves everything she has, and we gon get more from her – fo sho.
Rosario – you winnin – you go Glen Coco!
Girrrrrl. You STARTED with an Oscar, where dey do dat at? – Star Wars, Jungle Book – making your own blockbuster hits Queen of Katwe. Keep slaying.
Simply because she turned down Black Panther – you a BOSS. I just wanted to be a fly on the wall during that whole situation. Before her breakthrough in writing and directing with Selma, Queen Sugar, and 13th, this woman worked publicity on every movie ever, iRobot, Spiderman, Dreamgirls, even Spy Kids. Marvel keep trying, cuz the ultimate win is with her.
MoneyPenny, Yaasss! Black girl to stay in a James Bond, better than a Bond girl – she gets to reprise her role again and again. And her role in Moonlight a leap and stuck the landing, we have more to see from Naomie I know it.
Well that sums up my list, let me know yours! There so many ladies out there just changing all the rules and I can’t wait to play the game – Rosario, I’ll see you on set one day – let’s go!