From stereotypical roles as maids and cooks to Academy Award-winning performances in blockbuster movies, African Americans have come a long way in the world of film and television. Early stars like Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel may have been the first actors to win awards for their stellar performances, but modern-day actors such as Denzel Washington and Halle Berry are still breaking new ground as the first African Americans to win Oscars, Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards in certain categories. Learn more about the African-American actors who became the first to change the fabric of film and TV with their dramatic performances.
Former star of the hit TV drama 'St. Elsewhere,' actor/director Denzel Washington has earned popular and critical acclaim for his roles in an array of feature films, including 'Glory,' 'Malcolm X,' 'Training Day,' 'American Gangster' and 'Flight.'
In his first show back on the road since May 2015 following a sex assault scandal, Bill Cosby played with a jazz band in front of a friendly crowd in his hometown of Philly. Cosby told stories and talked about his childhood but declined to discuss his upcoming retrial.
Halle Berry won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in 'Monster's Ball,' becoming the first African-American woman to win the honor. She has starred in films including 'Swordfish,' 'Die Another Day,' 'Gothika,' the 'X-Men' film franchise and 'Kidnap.'
In a rousing #MeToo Golden Globes’ lifetime achievement award acceptance speech, Oprah Winfrey tipped her hat to the free press and women who have been abused by men in power, suggesting that “speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have.”
Nat King Cole became the first African-American performer to host a variety TV series in 1956. He's best known for his soft baritone voice and for singles like "The Christmas Song," "Mona Lisa" and "Nature Boy."