Trailblazing 90s Black Actresses: Unrivaled Talent & Impact

90s Black Actresses Header

For many reasons, the 90s was a great decade, but one of the wonderful aspects was the flourishing of black actresses in significant roles in television and cinema. The black actresses in the 90s changed the face of entertainment and served as role models to millions worldwide. Although plenty more could have been included in this list, these 90s black actresses will inspire anyone looking to see what greatness can be achieved through hard work, perseverance, and determination.

Join us as we walk you through the most popular black actresses in the 90s:

Table of Contents

Jada Pinkett Smith‚Äč

Jada pinkett smith

Jada Pinkett was all over our screens in the 90s with her first major role coming in 1991 on A Different World (on TV) before her major breakout role in film through the Nutty Professor. 

She hasn’t looked back since and in the 90s, she featured in 12 films, 2 TV movies and 4 TV series.

Throughout her career, Smith has appeared on several highly influential magazine covers such as Variety, Time, Vanity Fair, and People and among her success is the Day Time Emmy Award, and a listing among the most influential people in 2021.

93 Menace II Society‚Äč
5/10
94 The Inkwell
7.5/10
94 Jason's Lyric
6.6/10
94 A Low Down Dirty Shame
5.9/10
95 Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight
6.9/10
96 The Nutty Professor II
5.7/10
96 Set It Off
6.8/10
97 Princess Mononoke
8.4/10
97 Scream 2‚Äč
6.3/10
98 Woo
4.1/10
98 Return to Paradise
6.9/10
98 Welcome to Hollywood
5/10

90s Black Actresses: Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett aka the actress who absolutely smashed it as Tina Turner in the film about her life is a truly fantastic actress popularised in the 90s. 

You can’t talk about Angela without also giving a ceremonial nod to her amazing performance in Malcolm X where she took on the mighty role of Betty Shabazz (Malcolm’s wife).

Because of these two iconic films, Bassett was a constant presence on-screen in the 90s as she featured in 15 films, 9 TV movies and 6 TV series. That is quite the haul!

90 Kindergarten Cop
6.2/10
91 Boyz n the Hood
7.8/10
91 City of Hope
7.3/10
92 Critters 4
4/10
92 Innocent Blood
6.2/10
92 Malcolm X
7.7/10
92 Passion Fish
7.3/10
93 What's Love Got to Do with It
7.3/10
95 Panther
0/10
95 Strange Days
7.1/10
95 Vampire in Brooklyn
4.6/10
95 Waiting to Exhale
5.9/10
97 Contact
7.5/10
98 How Stella Got Her Groove Back
5.7/10
99 Our Friend, Martin
6.7/10
99 Music of the Heart
6.7/10

Regina King

Regina King

When you think about black actresses from the 90s, you can’t help but think of Regina. “Show me the money Jerry!!!” Regina received critical acclaim for her role in Jerry’s Maguire after an already stella performance in the classic stoner film Friday.

Regina featured in numerous other roles of course and in the 90s she featured in 9 films, 1 TV movies and a solid 4 TV series.

91 Boyz n the Hood
7.8/10
93 Poetic Justice
6/10
95 Higher Learning
6.5/10
95 Friday
7.2/10
96 A Thin Line Between Love and Hate
5.5/10
96 Jerry Maguire
7.3/10
98 How Stella Got Her Groove Back
5.7/10
98 Enemy of the State
7.3/10
98 Mighty Joe Young
5.7/10
99 Love and Action in Chicago
4.9/10

90s Black Actresses: Queen Latifah

queen latifah

Queen Latifah, the rapping legend and trendsetter throughout the 90s features highly on our influential black actresses of the 90s list. 

Although best known for her musical exploits and transforming rap culture away from a male orientated genre, she also starred in an amazing 10 feature films and 5 TV series!

Our favourite role has to be from action crime drama Set It Off where her character played a key role in a meticulously planned bank heist.

91 Jungle Fever
6.6/10
91 House Party 2
5.2/10
92 Juice
7/10
93 My Life
6.8/10
96 Set It Off
6.8/10
97 Hoodlum
6.3/10
98 Sphere
6.1/10
98 Living Out Loud
6.6/10
99 The Bone Collector
6.7/10
99 Bringing Out the Dead
6.8/10

Nicole Ari Parker

nicole ari parker

In spite of making waves only part way through the 90s, Nicole Ari Parker sure made up for lost time with incredible roles in both Boogie Nights and Two Girls in Love.

The upshot of her Two Girls in Love performance was clear to see as she she featured in 12 films and 5¬†TV movies, shying away from TV series entirely, something that has changed these days as she currently features in “Just Like That”, the reboot of Sex and The City.

95 Stonewall
7.1/10
95 The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love
6.6/10
97 Boogie Nights
7.9/10
97 The End of Violence
5.6/10
98 Spark
5.5/10
98 The Adventures of Sebastian Cole
6.6/10
99 200 Cigarettes
5.9/10
99 A Map of the World
6.5/10
99 Blue Streak
6.3/10
99 Harlem Aria
6/10
99 Loving Jezebel
5.4/10
99 Mute Love
6.7/10

Halle Berry

halle berry

There are some actresses who stick in the mind for one particular performance and Halle Berry’s Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball was a defining moment in her career in the 90s. In fact, she remains the only¬†African-American woman to have ever won the Best Actress award and we couldn’t be happier for her.

Of course she’s played hundreds of roles since then and in the 90s alone she covered 16 films, 3 TV movies and 7 TV shows demonstrating her hard work and commitment to her trade.

91 Jungle Fever
6.7/10
91 Strictly Business
5.4/10
91 The Last Boy Scout
7/10
92 Boomerang
5.6/10
93 CB4
6.2/10
93 Father Hood
4.9/10
93 Losing Isaiah
6.4/10
93 The Program
6.4/10
94 The Flintstones
4.9/10
96 Executive Decision
6.5/10
96 Race the Sun
5.4/10
96 The Rich Man's Wife
5.2/10
97 B*A*P*S
4.6/10
98 Bulworth
6.8/10
98 Welcome to Hollywood
5/10
98 Why Do Fools Fall in Love
6.3/10

Vivica A.Fox

vivica a fox

If you loved Don’t be a Menace to South Central, then you love Vivica A Fox. If you’re more of a sci-fi fan then you’ll have crossed paths with her through the iconic blockbuster film that is¬†Independence Day!¬†

Either way, there was no way to avoid Fox during the 90s as she featured in 9 films, 1 TV movies and an incredible 17 TV series. The most notable of those being Getting Personal, a drama about an advertising company.

96 Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood
6.5/10
96 Independence Day
7/10
96 Set It Off
6.8/10
97 Booty Call
5.4/10
97 Batman & Robin
3.7/10
97 Soul Food
7/10
98 Why Do Fools Fall in Love
6.3/10
99 Idle Hands
6.2/10
99 Teaching Mrs. Tingle
5.3/10

Vanessa Williams

vanessa williams

Crowned as Miss America in 1984, Vanessa Williams had to make the cut for our list of black actresses in the 90s!

In truth, she was so much more than an actress with forays into fashion, music and of course films. In the 90s she featured in 9 films, 7 TV movies and 6 TV series.She deserves her place amongst our best black tv actresses from the 90s.

91 Another You
5.2/10
91 Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man
6.1/10
96 Eraser
6.2/10
97 Soul Food
7/10
97 Hoodlum
6.3/10
98 Dance with Me
5.9/10
99 The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland
5.7/10
99 Light It Up
6/10

Loretta Devine

loretta devine

All fans of Dreamgirls (on Broadway), Grey’s Anatomy (on TV) or the Romcom classic Waiting to Exhale will know the legend that is Loretta Devine.¬†

A star of many mediums, Loretta featured in 16 films, 6 TV movie and an incredible 16 TV series during the 90s and is a household name across the entire decade. A worthy entry in our list of¬†90’s black actresses!

91 Caged Fear
4.5/10
91 Livin' Large!
4.9/10
92 Class Act
6/10
93 Amos & Andrew
5.7/10
94 The Hard Truth
4.7/10
95 Waiting to Exhale
5.9/10
96 The Preacher's Wife
5.6/10
97 Lover Girl
5.1/10
97 The Price of Kissing
4.6/10
98 Down in the Delta
6.9/10
98 Love Kills
3.7/10
98 Urban Legend
5.6/10
98 Operations Splitsville
4.5/10
99 Funny Valentines
7.4/10
99 Lillie
7.7/10
99 The Breaks
6.1/10

Whitney Houston

whitney houston

I will always love you!! What an icon Whitney Houston was back in the 90s and still today long after her passing in 2012. Her film the bodyguard stands the test of time and is still a delight to watch today.

In the 90s she featured in 3 films, and just 1 TV movie with most of her efforts of course going on her flourishing music career which continues even now.

92 The Bodyguard
6.3/10
95 Waiting to Exhale
5.9/10
96 The Preacher's Wife
3.7/10

Tisha Campbell

tisha campbell

Tisha Campbell shot to fame in the 1990s with a starring role in¬†House Party, a hilarious comedy about a house party gone wrong (we’ve all been there!).

In the 90s she featured in 8 films, 2 TV movies and 12 TV series, which comprise of some her most iconic roles (who doesn’t love My Wife and Kids, although that’s more noughties than nineties!). Tisha absolutely deserves her place in our list of¬†black actresses in the 90s

90 House Party
6.4/10
90 Another 48 Hrs.
6/10
91 House Party 2
5.2/10
92 Boomerang
5.6/10
94 House Party 3
4.6/10
96 Homeward Bound II
5.9/10
96 Snitch
5/10
97 Sprung
5/10

Rounding up 90s Black Actresses

The 1990s saw a rise in diverse roles for women on TV and film. Most of those in our list of black actresses in the 90s still dominate today. From sitcom stars to powerful leading ladies, these women impacted pop culture and inspired many. Refreshingly, many young girls were able to see themselves represented by these strong women characters, which we think is still important today. 

You may also enjoy reading about the 90s girl groups who also inspired a generation but for today we celebrate our 90s black actresses as we reminisce about our favourite movies and shows.

Enjoyed this tribute to 90s Black Actresses? You might also be interested in our articles on the talented 90s GZA and the iconic article on DiCaprio’s 90s Hair