22 Of The Most Iconic Roles Played By Black Women in Hollywood

We all know the roles that made some our favorite stars famous. We can quote the classic lines and sing the soundtrack on cue. They're iconic. As we prepare to celebrate the ninth annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards and the 88th annual Academy Awards, hosted by our February cover star Chris Rock, here's a look at the roles that put some of Hollywood's hottest stars on the map.

Lauren Porter Feb, 24, 2016

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One of the greatest moments in Black cinema is courtesy of Angela Bassett for her role in the film adaptation of Terry McMillan's novel, Waiting to Exhale.

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Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, truly transformed in the iconic film, The Color Purple, which earned her an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress.

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The world wasn't ready for Taraji P. Henson's feisty role in Empire, but Cookie is here and she slays!

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Taking on the role of the legendary singer in What's Love Got to Do With It? was no easy feat for Angela Bassett, but it's one that scored the Hollywood heavyweight an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

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Hollywood got its dose of Kerry Washington's magic in the ABC hit series, Scandal, in her role as Capitol Hill's leading lady and political fixer.

6 of 21 Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Hattie McDaniel made history after becoming the first African-American to take home an Academy Award for her role in the 1939 film, Gone with the Wind.

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Already a world-renowned singer, Diana Ross made a major impact on the movie industry for her role in Lady Sings the Blues; she scored a 'Best Actress' Academy Award nomination for the part.

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Hollywood icon, Dorothy Dandrige received an Academy Award nomination in 1954 for her role as a seductive factory worker in the film Carmen Jones.

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She's the TV mama we all wish we had—Phylicia Rashad captivated our hearts in The Cosby Show.

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Jennifer Hudson may have found fame on American Idol, but her role in Dreamgirls— the film adaptation of the masterful Broadway play of the same name—scored her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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Already a global music phenomenon, Grammy-winner Whitney Houston made all of Hollywood stop, look and listen when she starred as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard.

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Daughter of Hollywood superstar, Ms. Diana Ross, Tracee Ellis Ross paved her own way to fame in her iconic Girlfriends role, cementing her as a household name. 

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Whoopi Goldberg was dynamic in the film adaptation of Alice Walker's literary masterpiece, The Color Purple.

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Viola Davis may have starred in Antwone Fisher, Doubt and The Help but it was her role as the dynamic esquire and professor of law in How to Get Away with Murder that scored her an Emmy.

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In 1968, Diahann Carroll became iconic for her role in the Primetime series Julia as she became the first African-American actress to star in a non-stereotypical role in a sitcom.

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January cover star,  Lupita Nyong'o made her first wave in Hollywood after starring in the 2013 drama film, 12 Years a Slave; a role which earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

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Pam Grier's role in the 1974 movie Foxie Brown catapulted her into stardom and still stands as a testament of almighty girl power.

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The 2009 film Precious served as Gabourey Sidibe's cinematic debut, and earned her and Mo'Nique an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman lead award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, to her first Emmy win for Actress of the Year and a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.

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The 1990 film Ghost earned Whoopi Golberg an Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress along with a BAFTA, and Golden Globe.

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Tischa Campbell-Martin had a role in School Daze and the House Party franchise, but her role in the 90s sitcom Martin made her a household name.