When you hear the name Diahann Carroll you think of a mellifluous voice contrasted with a bunch of no-nonsense badass characters that you wanted to be like. She was someone who embodied the word diva in the best possible way. Proven as a force to be reckoned with several times over, the actress and singer was an originator of the beauty icon.
Best known for her roles in Julia (where she was the first Black woman to star in her own show), as Dominique Deveraux in Dynasty, and for younger generations, as Marion Gilbert, Whitley Gilbert’s mother on A Different World, Carroll helped change the world’s view on what Black women are capable of.
She rocked everything with confidence, from sleek pixie cuts to baby bangs, and winged liner to dramatic falsies. Carroll wore blue and purple eyeshadow when Black women were told that those weren’t colors for their skin tones. And she wore pink lipstick, red lipstick, and nudes like a queen, blazing the trail for the influencers who wear color with no boundaries today.
Every time she emerged to the public, she was flawless, even throughout years when color options in the beauty industry were limited for Black women.
Carroll mastered all of this before the beauty influencers of today were even in diapers. She has been a beauty and style inspiration for Black women in Hollywood who came after her, including Whitney Houston, Halle Berry, and Angela Bassett. Over the years red lips became her signature, and her style evolved with the times as she continued to give lewks on red carpets all over the world.
So as we mourn her passing, we also take this opportunity to celebrate her life, her work, and her contribution to the arts, including the fashion and beauty industries. Always a beauty who we will look to for inspiration, Diahann Carroll is an icon whose spirit and style will live on in all of us.