The fact that two Black women were the leads on primetime ratings juggernauts Scandal and Sleepy Hollow didn’t go unnoticed. Actresses Kerry Washington and Nicole Beharie set a new standard for Black actresses on the small screen. It’s no wonder Washington’s Olivia Pope was crowned number two on TIME’s most influential fictional characters of 2013.
After 11 long weeks and battling a chronic knee injury, Amber Riley (and dance partner Derek Hough) won Season 17 of Dancing with the Stars. “I want women of all sizes out there to know you can do whatever you put your mind to,” said Riley after her win.
Not content to sit back and watch girls fall through the cracks of an inner-city communty plagued by violence, Camden, New Jersey native Tawanda Jones started the Camden Sophisticated Sisters Drill Team to give them a positive alternative. This year she became a finalist for CNN’s “Hero of the Year.”
If you watch Scandal, then you’ll know why three more dramas from Shonda Rhimes and her team are like the perfect gift from TV heaven. Did we mention Rhimes is the most powerful Black showrunner in television?
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o is certainly number one on everyone’s list of breakout stars of 2013 thanks to her outstanding performance as Patsey in the film 12 Years a Slave. “I haven’t yet found a suitable word in the English language that captures how it feels,” Nyong’o recently told EW of her newfound success. “It’s overwhelming. It’s exciting. It’s humbling. It’s a lot.”
When her daughter Hadiya was shot and killed in a Chicago park shortly after attending President Obama’s second inauguration, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton decided her child’s story was the nation’s story. Cowley-Pendleton took to the national stage to advocate for tougher gun laws. We salute her, and her husband Nathaniel.
Pregnancy rates among Black teens fell by 51 percent between 1990 and 2009, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. “The decline has been fueled by three factors: more teens are waiting to have sex; they also report fewer sexual partners and better use of contraception,” said Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
In what will surely be dubbed one of the greatest moves by any artist in history, Beyonce released a suprise album without marketing or a publicity machine. She made iTunes (and music) history by selling close to a million copies in less than a week. Who run the world?
We love a good story of sister-friends doing big things together. Jada Pinkett Smith is the executive producer behind Queen Latifah’s succesful daytime TV talk show.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the governing body behind the Oscars), making her the first Black person, and third woman, to ever hold the title.
A former secretary, Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija worked her way to the top. In 2013, she replaced Oprah Winfrey as the richest Black woman in the world with an estimated fortune of $7.3 billion.
When a would-be shooter walked into her school armed with an AK-47, Atlanta bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff talked 20-year-old talking shooter Michael Brandon Hill into surrendering to police. “It’s gonna be alright sweetie, I want you to know that I love you,” Tuff told Hill. “We all go through something in life. You’re gonna be OK.”
Two years after suffering a pulmonary embolism, Serena Williams was back on top, winning her second French Open and fifth U.S. Open. Her U.S. Open victory increased her Grand Slam singles title count to 17, one title less than tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert who both won 18.
This year the civil rights pioneer was honored with a stamp on the 100th anniversary of her birth. Months later, President Obama honored her with a statue in the Capitol Building’s Statuary Hall.
From Youtube sensation to comedy writer, Internet star Issa Rae is spreading her wings to television. This year, the Awkward Black Girl creator landed a deal to write a pilot for HBO and she’s working on a book.
Love or loathe her, Rihanna is one of the most successful pop artists of our time. The 25-year-old singer recently broke the record for most number one pop songs in Billboard charts. She now has a total of 13 number ones, tying only with Michael Jackson and passing Madonna and Katy Perry.
The TLC biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story became VH1’s highest-rated telecast in more than five years. We couldn’t be more delighted in seeing a story of sisterhood and resilience on the small screen.
The fashion house’s 9-minute short—starring Gabrielle Union, Alfre Woodard, Goapele, Adepero Oduye and shot by filmmaker Ava DuVernay—weaved a beautiful tale of friendship and the transformative power of sisterhood.
For her testimony at George Zimmerman’s trial this past summer, Rachel Jeantel was mocked and belittled on social media and beyond. But the 19-year-old didn’t let it phase her. During an appearance on Piers Morgan she called the jury’s not-guilty plea “total B.S.” “No offense to the jury, they old, that’s old school people. We in a new school,” she told Morgan.
Earlier this year, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff signed on to host PBS’ “NewsHour,” making them the first women to co-anchor a national daily news program on television.