A Salute To The Black Female Leads Of 2019 Films – Blackfilm – Black Movies, Television, and Theatre News


Having written a Black Female Leads article a year ago, I felt I should do this annually so folks can see who are the faces of tomorrow, the breakouts of the year, who’s finally being noticed and how often one is getting work in this position.

There is still a lot of work to be done. Oscar winner Viola Davis, after becoming the first African-American to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama in 2015, stated, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”

Among the 2019 highlights

Although she didn’t have a lead role in Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, the year started off great when Regina King won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. With a lead role in Netflix’s Seven Seconds, which she won an Emmy for and a lead role in this year’s Watchmen for HBO, here’s hoping she can land a major role on the big screen when she’s on hiatus from her TV projects.

Marketing is the key when discussing Black female leads and some are starting to be recognized for major awards. A year ago, Regina Hall was the first Black woman to win Best Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle in it 83-year history for her role in Support The Girls. Although, she didn’t receive an Oscar nomination, it was still a huge win from this prestigious group. This year, the group has awarded Lupita Nyong’o that honor for her performance in Jordan Peele’s Us. She’s also racked Best Actress wins from other critics organizations. Along with a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nomination, there’s a good chance Nyong’o may land an Oscar nomination.

Cynthia Erivo is also getting notice for her leading role in Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet. She also received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture. Not only are Nyong’o and Erivo the 5th & 6th Black actresses ever to be nominated in this category, it’s also the first time 2 Black women have been in this category in the same year.

So far, in the Academy Awards’ 91 year history, Halle Berry (2001) is the ONLY Black woman to have won an Oscar for Best Actress out of the 11 Black women ever nominated. That’s 11 out of 455 in total. Neither of these women have been nominated again in this category, while Viola Davis has received two Supporting Actress nods and won for Fences in 2016.

At the age of 13 and the star of Tina Gordon’s Little, Marsai Martin became executive producer of the film, making her the youngest person in Hollywood to ever produce a movie.

While it may not be reflected at year’s end when many critics groups and other organizations are recognizing the works of many, but from the various festivals around the world to theatrical releases and streaming platforms, there were at least 30 or more films that featured Black actresses in lead roles in 2019.

Here’s a list of Black actresses who had lead roles in 2019, from films that were released in theaters to films that played in festivals; as well as films were streamed online.

Films With Theatrical Releases

Taylor Russell – Escape Room (Released by Screen Gems)
Tika Sumpter – An Acceptable Loss (Released by IFC Films)
Taraji P. Henson – What Men Want (Released by Paramount)
Lupita Nyong’o – Us (Released by Universal)
Taraji P. Henson – The Best of Enemies (Released by STX Films)
Marsai Martin – Little (Released by Universal)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Fast Color (Released by Lionsgate)
Tessa Thompson – Little Woods (Released by Neon)
Samantha Mugatsia & Sheila Munyiva – Rafiki (Released by Film Movement)
Meagan Good – The Intruder (Released by Screen Gems)
Yara Shahidi – The Sun Is Also A Star (Released by Warner Bros.)
Octavia Spencer – Ma (Released by Universal)
Tessa Thompson – Men In Black: International (Released by Sony Pictures)
Tiffany Haddish – The Kitchen (Released by Warner Bros.)
Lauren ‘Lolo’ Spencer – Give Me Liberty (Released by Music Box Films)
Storm Reid – Don’t Let Go (Released by Universal’s OTL Releasing)
Corinne Foxx – 47 Meters Down (Released by Lionsgate)
Uzo Aduba – Miss Virginia (Released by Vertical Entertainment)
Naomie Harris – Black and Blue (Released by Screen Gems)
Cynthia Erivo – Harriet (Released by Focus Features)
Aryn Wright-Thompson – Overcomer (Released by Sony Pictures/ AFFIRM Films)
Kyleigh Curran – Doctor Sleep (Released by Warner Bros.)
Cynthia Dankwa – The Burial of Kojo (Released by ARRAY)
Lupita Nyong’o – Little Monsters (Released by Hulu & Neon)
Sasheer Zamata – The Weekend (Released by Lionsgate)
Jodie Turner-Smith – Queen & Slim (Released by Universal)
Marianne Jean-Baptiste – In Fabric (Released by A24)
Alfre Woodard – Clemency (Released by Neon)

Films That Played At Festivals

Zora Howard – Premature (Sundance Film Festival, To Hit Theaters in 2020)
Lovie Simone – Selah and the Spades (Sundance Film Festival)
Kiersey Clemons – Sweetheart (Sundance Film Festival)
Viola Davis – Troop Zero (Sundance Film Festival, To Hit Theaters in 2020)
Gabourey Sidibe – Come As You Are (SXSW)
Tiffany Tenille – Jezebel (SXSW, To Be Released By Array in 2020)
Aja Naomi King – A Girl From Mogadishu (Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival)
Lil Mama – All In (American Black Film Festival)
Ashley A. Williams – His, Hers & The Truth (American Black Film Festival)
Meagan Good, Tamara Bass, Mekia Cox and Meagan Holder – If Not Now, When? (American Black Film Festival)
Brave Williams – Love Dot Com The Social Experiment (American Black Film Festival)
Erica Hubbard – Perfectly Single (American Black Film Festival)
Tayler Buck – Princess of the Row (American Black Film Festival)
Essence Atkins – Same Difference (American Black Film Festival)
Joi Starr – Strive (American Black Film Festival)
Numa Perrier – Una Great Movie (American Black Film Festival)
Bukky Bakray – Rocks (Toronto Film Festival)
Wislanda Louiemat – Zombie Child (Toronto Film Festival)
Nicole Fortuin – Flatands (Toronto Film Festival)
Albina Kirenga, Amanda Mugabekazi, Belinda Rubango, and Clariella Bizimana – Our Lady of the Nile (Toronto Film Festival)
Nessa Noel – The Birth of Deceit (Urbanworld Film Festival)
Mary Nyambura – Nine Nights (Chelsea Film Festival)
Nqobile Khumalo – Uncovered (Chelsea Film Festival)

Films Released In Theaters & On Netflix

Eden Duncan-Smith – See You Yesterday
Kerry Washington – American Son
Alfre Woodard – Juanita
Angela Bassett – Otherhood
DeWanda Wise – Someone Great
Zawe Ashton – Velvet Buzzsaw
Genevieve Nnaji – Lionheart
Soneqa Martin-Green – Holiday Rush
Mama Sane – Atlantics

Actresses with multiple lead roles in 2019

Alfre Woodard (Juanita, Clemency)
Taraji P. Henson (What Men Want, The Best of Enemies)
Lupita Nyong’o (Us, Little Monsters)
Tessa Thompson (Little Woods, Men in Black International)
Meagan Good (The Intruder, If Not Now, When?)

This content was originally published here.

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