Hollywood’s Best Black Divas Of All Time


A new book called Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film by Mia Mask examines five African American film icons, discussing:

Dorothy Dandridge‘s status as a sexual commodity in films such as Tamango, revealing the contradictory discourses regarding race and sexuality in segregation-era American culture;

Pam Grier‘s feminist-camp performances…[which] highlight a similar tension between representing African American women as both objectified stereotypes and powerful, self-defining icons;

Whoopi Goldberg‘s transforming habits in Sister Act and The Associate as representative of her unruly comedic routines;

Oprah Winfrey‘s daily television performance as self-made, self-help guru echoes Horatio Alger’s narratives of success;

And Halle Berry‘s meteoric success, acknowledging the ways in which Dandridge’s career made Berry’s possible.

What, no Cicely Tyson? Diana Ross? Or Hattie McDaniel? Well, there’s always room for Divas on Screen Part Deux.

Archive Highlights