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Black Women Step Into The Spotlight Part 2

RED CARPET FLOW: Kerry Washington at the Oscars a few years back

AWARD SEASON seems an appropriate time to highlight black women who are making things happen both in front and behind the camera in and around the giant, glitzy machine that is Hollywood.

The first part of this article was published yesterday and focused on the achievements of Taraji P. Henson, Naomie Harris, Viola Davis, Ava Duvernay, Queen Latifah, Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Ruth Negga. Part two will acknowledge the work of Kerry Washington, Lorna Gayle, Issa Rae, Vivica A. Fox, Amma Asante, Sheila Nortley and Shonda Rhimes.

To read part 1 of this article, click here.

Kerry Washington

Meaty roles in Django Unchained, For Colored Girls, The Last King of Scotland and Ray, to name a few, seem to be distant memories in the wake of beloved TV character Olivia Pope, whom Washington has played for the past five years in Scandal. Scooping wins from TV Guide and the NAACP for her work, Washington remains in the award mix as a 2017 Golden Globe nominee for her portrayal of Anita Hill, who famously made headlines after accusing a judge of harassment.

Lorna Gayle

REMEMBER THIS FACE: Lorna Gayle (photo credit: Fatimah Namda)

Referred to lovingly as ‘Lorna G’ by a troupe of south London sound system fans and lovers rock aficionados, Gayle started her career as a female DJ who regularly went toe-to-toe with lauded male lyricists on the mic. A career change to acting has been nothing but fruitful, with a host of enigmatic stage performances at the likes of the National Theatre, a substantial speaking part in The Dark Knight plus regular appearances on BBC staples Holby City and EastEnders.

Issa Rae

PREMIERING: Issa Rae (photo credit: Getty Images)

Issa Rae picked up a loyal cult following after posting the first part of her web series, Awkward Black Girl, on YouTube, before releasing later episodes of the series which had a distinctly more polished feel to them. The boost in budget and production quality came after the attention of none other than Pharrell Williams, who enveloped Rae into his I Am Other production label. A TV series, Golden Globe-nominated Insecure, followed and has just finished its run in the UK on Sky Atlantic.

Vivica A. Fox

BOSSING IT: Vivica A. Fox

Whether you like her or have perhaps recently began to loathe her much-publicised social media war with 50 Cent, whom she calls her ex-boyfriend, Fox was one of the very first Hollywood actors to make the jump to a regular, popular TV show. After prominent roles in Kill Bill, Fox began to wow home audiences when she played Kate in Law & Order. Fox currently plays Candace on Empire, starring Taraji P. Henson who plays her sister Cookie.

Amma Asante


British director Amma Asante is enjoying a steady climb to Hollywood’s hall of fame, with not one but two films based on true stories that have hitherto been hidden from most accounts of black life in the UK in the 1940s and way beyond. These films, Belle and A United Kingdom, were both up for British Independent Film awards, however, the former took the accolade home for Asante.

Sheila Nortley

REGAL: Sheila Nortley (photo credit: Sara Russell Photography)

Multiple award-winning Sheila Nortley has dabbled with acting, however her real passion seems to lie in creating and directing films. Nortley appeared in Sable Fable back in 2013, a film she also associate-produced. Spike Lee awarded it Best Film and Best Director in Miami at the American Black Film Festival. Nortley’s more current work includes feature film The Strangers.

Shonda Rhimes

RHIME AND REASON: Shonda Rhimes (photo credit: James White / Simon & Schuster)

Shonda Rhimes brought us Kerry Washington as high-flying, back-stabbing, impeccably dressed Olivia Pope on Scandal, just one thing for which TV fans will be forever grateful. As if that wasn’t enough, Rhimes is also responsible for the equally addictive How to Get Away With Murder and Grey’s Anatomy. Revealing more about herself as her star began to rise, Rhimes has released book A Year of Yes, which won an NAACP award.

To read part 1 of this article, click here.

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