Year in Black Women


Best known for her catchy tunes, couture fashions and ever-changing hairstyles, Rihanna was caught up in a media firestorm for a different reason this year.After suffering a beating at the hands of her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown, she returned to center stage and proved that she was not just pop royalty, but a survivor.

Gabourey Sidibe

Having beat out 400 hopefuls to snag the title role in Precious, this Harlem native delivered a gripping portrayal of an abused, illiterate teen and earned Golden Globe, SAG and Independent Spirit Award nominations for her efforts.That’s not too shabby for a debut performance.

Serena Williams

Ever-passionate about her game, Williams momentarily lost her cool during a match at the U.S. Open.Though her fine was steep – a whopping $82,500 – the tennis champ (who also penned her memoir, On the Line, this year) was gracious with her apology, proving, again, that she is a true sportswoman.

Oprah Winfrey

The undisputed queen of talk announced that she will bow out in the fall of 2011, but we needn’t worry about her falling off our radar.After a quarter-century of ruling daytime, Winfrey will gear up for the launch of her OWN network…and we’ll be watching.


She loves to make us laugh (and even launched her first talk show this fall), but Mo’Nique really got our attention as Precious’ ever-troubled mother, Mary Jones, the most dramatic role of her career.So far, she’s racked up Golden Globe, SAG and Independent Spirit Award nominations – could Oscar be calling next?

Michelle Obama

It’s been said that behind every great man is a great woman and our First Lady is the very embodiment of those words.Along with her roles as wife and mother, Michelle Obama has changed the image of the White House.Whether she’s attending a State Dinner, greeting the Queen or tending to her garden, Barack’s better half exudes her own brand of grace and humility.

Judith Jamison

After two decades, Jamison marks her last season as Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.While we’re sad to see her go, we know that Mr. Ailey would’ve surely been proud of the work she put in to keep his name, and his vision, alive.

Princess Tiana

Disney made history this year with the crowning of their first Black princess, Tiana, courtesy of Tony Award-winner (and our January cover girl) Anika Noni Rose.Not only did the film snag the top, box office spot, but it also earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature.Maybe kissing a frog isn’t so bad!

Sherri Shepherd

Never one to rest on her laurels, this Emmy Award-winning actress/comedienne not only clocked in at her day job at The View, she also launched a self-titled sitcom, penned a how-to book and dropped 40 pounds.Talk about multi-tasking!

Jada Pinkett Smith

The pint-sized powerhouse proved that she’s got staying power when she made her way back to the small screen as the star and executive producer of HawthoRNe.Before season one wrapped, Smith got the green light for season two, which kicks off next summer.

Wendy Williams

Having made a successful transition from radio’s favorite gossip girl to daytime television’s most hilarious, guilty pleasure, Williams’ self-titled gabfest got picked up through 2012.How you doin’?

Whitney Houston

After a near-decade away from the spotlight, a newly-single Houston reemerged last fall with a renewed spirit and a #1 album, to boot.We look to you, Whitney, and so we’re glad to have you back.


She took her show on the road and had the world singing along to her monster hit, “Single Ladies,” but Beyonce (nee’ Sasha Fierce) really got folks talking when she graciously handed the spotlight back to Taylor Swift after that Kanye-fueled debacle at the MTV Awards.Next up, Houston’s finest will compete for ten Grammy Awards in February.

Zoe Saldana

Saldana flexed her box office muscle not once, but twice, this year with starring roles in the futuristic thrillers Star Trek and Avatar.The statuesque beauty is now on board for the heist flick, Takers, coming in February, and a rumored Star Trek sequel.

NeNe Leakes

There’s no doubt that this Georgia peach is the stand-out among her Real Housewives’ cohorts.When she wasn’t stirring up drama on Thursday nights, NeNe was busy working the red carpet and signing copies of her new book.We wonder if Bravo will cough up enough cash to entice her back for season three…hmmmm.

Viola Davis & Taraji P. Henson

Though they competed in the same category at the Academy Awards this year, we were thrilled to cheer on our Best Supporting Actress nominees for their work in Doubt (Davis) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Henson).Congrats on the honors, ladies, and keep the good work coming.