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Supreme Actresses


From Hattie McDaniel, the first actress of color to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1939, to Dorothy Dandridge, the first actress of color nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1954. From Ethel Waters, the first African American actress featured on an American sitcom in 1950, to Cicely Tyson, the first African American star of a TV drama in 1963. The performances of these talented actresses stand out in our memories. We experienced laughter, love, and loss with these women. But how did they begin their acting careers? Who were the first Black actresses who paved the way? What are their defining moments? What effects did racial prejudice have on their careers?

Supreme Actresses remembers and celebrates the groundbreaking women who have influenced culture for decades, reshaping the standards of beauty in modern society.