For many reasons, the 90s was a great decade, but one of the wonderful aspects was the flourishing of black actresses in significant roles in television and cinema. The black actresses in the 90s changed the face of entertainment and served as role models to millions worldwide. Although plenty more could have been included in this list, these 90s black actresses will inspire anyone looking to see what greatness can be achieved through hard work, perseverance, and determination.
Join us as we walk you through the most popular black actresses in the 90s:
Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett was all over our screens in the 90s with her first major role coming in 1991 on A Different World (on TV) before her major breakout role in film through the Nutty Professor.
She hasn’t looked back since and in the 90s, she featured in 12 films, 2 TV movies and 4 TV series.
Throughout her career, Smith has appeared on several highly influential magazine covers such as Variety, Time, Vanity Fair, and People and among her success is the Day Time Emmy Award, and a listing among the most influential people in 2021.
90s Black Actresses: Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett aka the actress who absolutely smashed it as Tina Turner in the film about her life is a truly fantastic actress popularised in the 90s.
You can’t talk about Angela without also giving a ceremonial nod to her amazing performance in Malcolm X where she took on the mighty role of Betty Shabazz (Malcolm’s wife).
Because of these two iconic films, Bassett was a constant presence on-screen in the 90s as she featured in 15 films, 9 TV movies and 6 TV series. That is quite the haul!
When you think about black actresses from the 90s, you can’t help but think of Regina. “Show me the money Jerry!!!” Regina received critical acclaim for her role in Jerry’s Maguire after an already stella performance in the classic stoner film Friday.
Regina featured in numerous other roles of course and in the 90s she featured in 9 films, 1 TV movies and a solid 4 TV series.
90s Black Actresses: Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah, the rapping legend and trendsetter throughout the 90s features highly on our influential black actresses of the 90s list.
Although best known for her musical exploits and transforming rap culture away from a male orientated genre, she also starred in an amazing 10 feature films and 5 TV series!
Our favourite role has to be from action crime drama Set It Off where her character played a key role in a meticulously planned bank heist.
Nicole Ari Parker
In spite of making waves only part way through the 90s, Nicole Ari Parker sure made up for lost time with incredible roles in both Boogie Nights and Two Girls in Love.
The upshot of her Two Girls in Love performance was clear to see as she she featured in 12 films and 5 TV movies, shying away from TV series entirely, something that has changed these days as she currently features in “Just Like That”, the reboot of Sex and The City.
There are some actresses who stick in the mind for one particular performance and Halle Berry’s Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball was a defining moment in her career in the 90s. In fact, she remains the only African-American woman to have ever won the Best Actress award and we couldn’t be happier for her.
Of course she’s played hundreds of roles since then and in the 90s alone she covered 16 films, 3 TV movies and 7 TV shows demonstrating her hard work and commitment to her trade.
If you loved Don’t be a Menace to South Central, then you love Vivica A Fox. If you’re more of a sci-fi fan then you’ll have crossed paths with her through the iconic blockbuster film that is Independence Day!
Either way, there was no way to avoid Fox during the 90s as she featured in 9 films, 1 TV movies and an incredible 17 TV series. The most notable of those being Getting Personal, a drama about an advertising company.
Crowned as Miss America in 1984, Vanessa Williams had to make the cut for our list of black actresses in the 90s!
In truth, she was so much more than an actress with forays into fashion, music and of course films. In the 90s she featured in 9 films, 7 TV movies and 6 TV series.She deserves her place amongst our best black tv actresses from the 90s.
All fans of Dreamgirls (on Broadway), Grey’s Anatomy (on TV) or the Romcom classic Waiting to Exhale will know the legend that is Loretta Devine.
A star of many mediums, Loretta featured in 16 films, 6 TV movie and an incredible 16 TV series during the 90s and is a household name across the entire decade. A worthy entry in our list of 90’s black actresses!
I will always love you!! What an icon Whitney Houston was back in the 90s and still today long after her passing in 2012. Her film the bodyguard stands the test of time and is still a delight to watch today.
In the 90s she featured in 3 films, and just 1 TV movie with most of her efforts of course going on her flourishing music career which continues even now.
Tisha Campbell shot to fame in the 1990s with a starring role in House Party, a hilarious comedy about a house party gone wrong (we’ve all been there!).
In the 90s she featured in 8 films, 2 TV movies and 12 TV series, which comprise of some her most iconic roles (who doesn’t love My Wife and Kids, although that’s more noughties than nineties!). Tisha absolutely deserves her place in our list of black actresses in the 90s
Rounding up 90s Black Actresses
The 1990s saw a rise in diverse roles for women on TV and film. Most of those in our list of black actresses in the 90s still dominate today. From sitcom stars to powerful leading ladies, these women impacted pop culture and inspired many. Refreshingly, many young girls were able to see themselves represented by these strong women characters, which we think is still important today.
You may also enjoy reading about the 90s girl groups who also inspired a generation but for today we celebrate our 90s black actresses as we reminisce about our favourite movies and shows.