There’s nothing like a little television to ignite the imagination. Whether you’re dreaming of escaping to some far off destination while tuning into the travel channel or wondering what life would be like as a member of Issa Dee’s Insecure crew, who hasn’t gotten caught up in a scripted fantasy?
This can be true when it comes to our work lives. We love seeing strong Black women characters handle their business on television and we can’t help but be inspired. This is particularly true when it comes to bosses. From empathy and advocacy to loyalty and equity, some of today’s leading Black women characters on television are in senior leadership positions, and they are doing their best to handle the challenges that come with being in a position of power.
Like us, they tackle the gender and racial biases in the workplace, while balancing the passion for their careers and the love they have for family and friends. Here are a few TV bosses who are the bosses we love to see win.
Catherine Fox from Grey’s Anatomy
One of the most esteemed surgeons in Shondaland is Catherine Fox (Debbie Allen); in fact, she’s legendary in the world of Grey’s Anatomy. Fox is so revered among the medical community that she purchased Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital though her Harper Avery Foundation. Who wouldn’t want to reach that level of medical success and wealth? Each time she visits the hospital, the residents and other staff compete for the chance to be under her tutelage. Sis is that good and we love to see it. What makes Catherine a great boss is that she sees everyone’s potential for greatness and helps them tap into it. It’s a quality we all need.
Charley Bordelon from Queen Sugar
She may have married rich, but Charley Bordelon (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) has proven that she’s more than just a former NBA wife. From day one, Charley possessed a business acumen that was savvy, cunning and unexpected if you underestimated her. She took the education from her MBA and the expertise that she gained from managing her ex-husband’s basketball career and used it to save her late father’s sugarcane farm that led her to build the first Black woman-owned mill in St. Josephine Parish. Charley is the type of person who doesn’t take “no” for an answer and will build or create around obstacles to get what she needs if you stand in her way. She’s all about legacy and ownership, and when she discovered that the Black and Latinx residents did not have equity in their community, she did something about it by running for a council seat. She has high expectations for herself, and she will always have them for the people around her. With each of Charley’s endeavors, her mission is purposeful. Working for a leader who is driven and ambitious in her pursuit of equity makes her a great example of business leadership.
Cookie Lyon from Empire
Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) has always had an excellent knack for discovering talent. When she finds that potential she will invest in it and help groom it to something beyond expectation. Cookie is the ultimate investor, and you’ll want to join her team because she shoots her shot and never misses her target. There have been several times where she did not have the support of Lyon patriarch Lucious or Empire for that matter. However, on her own, she was able to build the careers of some of the company’s most successful artists and staff members like her former assistant Porsha Taylor. After spending 17 years in prison, Cookie is all about second chances, and that’s what makes her a great boss. She gives the people around her the grace to make mistakes and to learn lessons along the way.
Grace Greenleaf from Greenleaf
Grace Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge) may come from a family of ministers, but that has not cleared her family from scandal. Her family built the Memphis megachurch, Calvary World Ministries. Still, the drama surrounding the Greenleafs has become the very thing that has led Calvary to pull away from the family—all except for Grace. When it comes to Grace’s ministry, no one can deny that it’s her calling. She’s a natural leader who genuinely cares for her congregation and community by helping members find jobs, placing families back together and keeping teenage girls safe. She is a seeker of truth, even if it goes against her family’s wishes. Despite the jealousy her siblings have against her gift for ministry, she keeps their secrets and fights for them to have a place at Calvary. If Grace has a long night ahead in the office, she doesn’t make her assistant, Karine Jackson, stay longer than she needs to. Grace is the type of boss who will advocate for you, and we would want her in our corner any day.
Judge Lola Carmichael from All Rise
The newly appointed Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Lola Carmichael (Simone Missick) is navigating all the pressures that involve holding a senior position as a Black woman in the workplace. “No woman of color can ascend to this level in her career, no matter whether it’s law enforcement, the medical profession, the legal profession, anything without having butted against a system that does not want to see her succeed, that does not believe that she deserves to be there,” Missick told TV Guide in a 2019 interview. Black judges and prosecutors have a lot of pressure put on them at work. They not only have a responsibility to uphold the laws of their city, but they also have an obligation to their community in a judicial system that is not always just. Judge Carmichael hopes to change the system but realizes change comes one day at a time. She is a boss who leads with humanity first and considers the plight, the experiences and the background of the defendants in her courtroom before making a ruling.
Sharon Goodwin of Chicago Med
The Chief of Services of Gaffney Chicago Medical Center is Sharon Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson), and she is not afraid to jump in the emergency department and get her hands dirty. Despite the urgency all around, Sharon’s presence in Chicago Med is always reliable and unwavering. Even a hostage situation did not deter Sharon from keeping her patients and staff safe. She offered herself up as a hostage in exchange for a patient and employee to be freed. She puts patients first, but she always has the best interest of her doctors and nurses front of mind. She stands up for them in a boardroom but is never afraid to check them for their wrong behind closed doors. People do amazing things when they work for a boss that has your back.
Who are some of your favorite TV bosses?