Leading Ladies: Black Actresses with Starring Roles to See in 2016 and 2017

The Oscars may be so white but the movies aren't. Throughout 2016 and 2017, Black actresses will dominate the movie screens. From Academy Award winners Octavia Spencer and Lupita Nyong'o to Tika Sumpter and Oprah Winfrey, here are 12 leading ladies to look for when films hit the theaters. 

Lauren Porter Jun, 08, 2016

1 of 12

Tika Sumpter is checking in for date night with President Obama...well sort of. The actress will star as First Lady Michelle Obama long before the pomp and circumstance of Presidential politics in the new flick chronicling the Obama’s first date. Southside with You details Barack's attempts to sweep Michelle off her feet after her repeated rejections of his advances. The film, which has already received rave reviews from Sundance critics, hits theaters August 26.

2 of 12

Hidden Figures will land on the big screen with star power from Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson, Academy Award winning actress Octavia Spencer, and Grammy-nominated singer Janelle Monae. The upcoming production chronicles three African American women who devised mathematical theories that help lauch NASA’s first successful mission to orbit the Earth during the Civil Rights Movement in 1962. The expected premiere date is in January 2017. 

3 of 12

Afeni Shakur may no longer be with us but the story of she and her son, slain rapper Tupac, will live on. The Walking Dead star and Eclipsed playwright Danai Gurira is set to star as the former Black Panther in the upcomping Pac biopic All Eyez on Me.

4 of 12

Queen of Katwe tells the true story of 10-year-old Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi and her journey to greatness. Lupita Nyong'o plays Phiona's mother Harriet in the Disney film.

5 of 12

Ms. Winfrey is heading back to the big screen in a HBO project, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks starring as Deborah Lacks the daughter of Henrietta Lacks, the African American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line. The true story is told through Deborah’s eyes as she learns about her mother’s unauthorized contribution to science after two samples of her cervix removed—a heathy part and a cancerous part—without her consent which were then used for research following her death in 1951. Winfrey will not only star in the project but she will produce the film as well which is expected to begin shooting 

6 of 12

Motherhood isn't going to come easy for actress Regina Hall in her new film, When the Bough Breaks. Starring alongside Morris Chestnut, things get intense when the couple can't conceive and look to a surrogate with hopes of making their quest for parenthood come true. The film premieres September 16.

7 of 12 Getty Images

Michel'le is a big voice in the hip-hop game. As one of the few female MC's in the rap game, her story is ready to be told. Lifetime is in the beginning stages of developing a biopic on the star including her record deal with Ruthless Records, her relationship with Dr. Dre, and her marriage to Suge Knight. Lincoln Heights actress, Rhyon Nicole Brown, has been tapped to play Michel'le and while no premeire date has been announced, it's one we will keep an eye out for. 

8 of 12

After a long wait, Viola Davis is finally bringing a biopic devoted to Harriet Tubman to life. The How to Get Away with Murder actress will star in the untitled project which will tell the story of the slave who fought her way to freedom, helping many of her fellow enslaved people reach the North. In May, the Emmy winner told Entertainment Weekly that the telling Tubman's story has often been ignored becuse she is a woman of color. “The reason her life has not been honored, the reason people don’t know what she contributed, is because she’s a Black woman. She was born a slave. If you look up the history of anyone who contributed to the country who were not White males, their contributions are always minimized.” Production will begin next year. 

9 of 12

Nate Parker's Birth of a Nation calls on How to Get Away with Murder's Aja Naomi King as the lady by his side. King will star as Cherry, a house slave who falls in love with Parker's character Nat Turner. The film hasn't even debuted in theaters but it is already breaking records, as Fox Searchlight purchased the movie for $17.5 million making it the largest sale in Sundance history. Birth of a Nation will hit theaters on October 7.

10 of 12 Getty Images

Musical legend Dionne Warwick is getting a movie to tell her story. Starring singer Letoya Luckett, the biopic will chronicle Warwick's career from 1962 to 1968, in the early stages of her record Billboard charting career. Production is expected to begin later this year so fingers crossed we'll see it soon!

11 of 12

Kerry Washington's compelling portrayal of Anita Hill in HBO's Confirmation may have already aired but it's a story that everyone must see. Washington stars as the then University of Oklahoma College of Law who accused then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991. The story which aired on HBO in April details the drama in a captivating way with a stellar cast, true attention to detail and importance integration of actual news footage from the case's unfolding. Confirmation is still avaliable to view via HBO. 

12 of 12 David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Focus Features

Ethopian born actress Ruth Negga will help tell the true story of the Loving couple, an interracial husband and wife from Virginia who faced jail time for eloping in Washington, D.C. in 1958. The Supreme Court ruling in their case, Loving v. Virginia overturned interracial marriage laws, making their marriage legal in the state of Virginia. Loving has already received early Oscar buzz for 2017 and will debut November 2016.