An accomplished actress, director and producer, Meagan Good’s career has been a lifetime in the making. With her first television appearance taking place nearly three decades ago, Good has not only witnessed the changes in TV and cinema, she’s helped to mold it.

As a teen, Meagan set her sights on Hollywood success, something she knew would be difficult. Also, being part of the only Black family in a predominantly white neighborhood would give the precocious youth her first brush with double consciousness and how her ethnicity intersected with her experience as a woman. As the actress turns 40 today, she’s grateful for the wisdom she’s gained over the years.

“It’s crazy how excited I am to turn 40,” Good tells ESSENCE. “I don’t think I’ve been this excited to turn an age since I was probably like 16. I feel a season shift in a really big and life-changing way—excitement and anticipation of what God has next!”

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Throughout her career, the overall influential figure has taught the world many lessons about living an authentic, purposeful life. Through the criticism of being a Black woman confident in her faith, she has graciously responded in a way that showed maturity and growth. From a young age, Meagan’s mother instilled a sense of authenticity and individuality in her, so she has always had a firm understanding of what it means to stay true to oneself.

In her four decades of living, Good has provided us with unforgettable moments in both cinema and television. Appearing in films such as Eve’s BayouStomp The Yard and Think Like A Man, along with recurring roles in Cousin Skeeter and Minority Report, the California-born actress takes her work seriously and makes it a priority in her life. However, for almost 10 years, one of her most important roles became that of a spouse. In June of 2012, Meagan wed producer, author and motivational speaker DeVon Franklin.

Her marriage to Franklin has been highly publicized, mainly due to their positive, faith-based connection. They’ve become known for their honesty about their courtship, putting God first in their relationship and their decision to wait until they were married before having sex, the subject they wrote about in their New York Times bestseller, The Wait.

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For years, Good has been a devout Christian, but her journey has become an inspiration for many people—especially for the younger generation. Even during difficult times, Good has lived with an admirable level of poise, humility and grace. In celebration of her 40th birthday, she had a photo session to mark how far she’s come and her enthusiasm about the next stage in her life.

“I did this shoot to commemorate and be a visual timestamp to remember exactly where I was in this season for myself. Full. At peace. In awe of answered prayers. Healing from even things I didn’t know I needed healing from…free,” Good says. “I want other women to look forward to getting older and embrace all the amazing freedom it brings. To unapologetically find their path & purpose and to look at our life’s lessons through the perspective of empowerment and unbreakable crowns. It’s been such a journey thus far and we can choose that all of it has made us stronger and more equipped to be effective for what’s next. I so look forward to being more usable in the Kingdom (of God).”

Inside? Ya girl understands the assignment. This is 40! 

Check out the images below.

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