Black Girl Magic: Aunjanue Ellis Thrives On Telling Our Stories
Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET

With credits such as the widely lauded BET miniseries The Book of Negroes and next year’s Nat Turner biopic The Birth of a Nation, Aunjanue Ellis makes no qualms about crossing over to the mainstream.

“I love telling Black folks’ stories and how we deal with issues,” says Ellis, whose 20-year career also includes Ray and The Help. “I want to be a part of things that set the record straight about who we are.”

Look for Ellis, 46, to further her mission in the new FBI Academy–set political drama Quantico (Sundays on ABC).

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“I’ve been on so many shows and it’s like, ‘There’s the Black woman.’ That’s not what this is,” says Ellis, whose character is the anchor for Quantico’s protagonist, played by Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra. “The audience is forced to invest in these women in this wonderful way. My prayer is that we capitalize on that and exploit that to the max. It’s exciting. Good or bad, I’m proud of it for that.”

This article was orginally published in the October issue of ESSENCE, on newsstands now!