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Top 13 Black Actresses Over 70 You Need To Know

The acting industry is quite competitive, especially when one is aspiring to get into Hollywood.

So, it is inspiring to see actresses who have been in the industry since the 20th century still rocking and going strong.

What’s more interesting is how these legends still look great, maybe it’s because of the melanin in their skin.

Here’s a list of Hollywood’s black actresses over 70 years of age.

1. Loretta Devine

Loretta was born on August 21, 1949. She joined the industry in 1977 and has been involved in many stage performances such as musicals, television series and films.

Known for her charisma, Loretta was in the original Dreamgirls as Lorrell Robinson which made its debut in 1981.

She has been honored with a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a result of her work.

Loretta is most known for her work in Boston Public, Grey’s Anatomy, Waiting to Exhale, and The Preacher’s Wife, films which have seen her win the NAACP Image Awards.

Even after nearly 5 decades in the film industry, the award‐winning actress is still very active with her latest work is the 2023 film A Snowy Day in Oakland, where she is cast as Jeanette.

2. Phylicia Rashad

She was born Phylicia Ayers Allen on June 19, 1948. Phylicia later changed to Rashad after she got married to Ahmad Rashad, making it her permanent stage name despite their divorce in 2001.

She is a renowned actress, singer and producer. Her role in the play A Raisin In the Sun saw her become the first black woman to win the Tony Award for best actress.

 She also won the award again in 2005 and 2022 for her roles in Gem Of The Ocean and Skeleton Crew respectively.

However, the role that earned her fame was The Cosby Show in 1984 as Clair Huxtable, which was the most popular family comedy at the time.

Some of her most famous acts are Creed II & III, Psych, Grey’s Anatomy, and Emily & Tim.

3. LaTanya Richardson Jackson

Born October 21 1949, LaTanya is an American actress.

She began her acting career in 1976, where she started out in Off-Broadway productions.

She has featured in films such as Juice in 1992, Losing Isaiah in 1995, Freedomland in 2006, and Mother and Child in 2009 alongside her husband, Samuel L. Jackson.

Her first television role was on A Man Called Hawk in 1989 as Doris Gilbert. She has been cast in Boston Public, Blue Bloods, Luke Cage, and Grey’s Anatomy.

She won the 2010 Audie Award for Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales.

Her latest work has been in the 2023 film You Hurt My Feelings as Sylvia and in the 2022 TV docuseries The Last Movie Stars as Maude Brink.

4. Debbie Allen

Debbie was born on January 16, 1950. He holds many titles; actress, singer-songwriter, choreographer, dancer, director and producer.

She has won the Emmy Awards five times and Golden Globe Award. In 1991, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Debbie began her acting career in 1968 on Broadway Theatre.

She has been featured in television series Grey’s Anatomy, Jane The Virgin, All Of Us, Grace and Frankie, and her most recent work The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder.

5. Pam Grier

Pamela Suzette Grier was born on May 26, 1949. She began acting in 1970.

Her first film was Beyond the Valley of the Dolls as Partygoer. She has been featured in video games, music videos, TV and film.

Her major roles include The Big Doll House (1971), Women in Cages (1971), The Big Bird Cage (1972), Jackie Brown (1997), Bones (2001), Just Wright (2010) and Poms (2019).

Coffy (1973) gave Grier her big break as it earned her international recognition.

6. Sharon Epatha Merkerson

Sharon Epatha Merkerson was born on November 28, 1952. She began her acting career in 1976 working for Broadway and Off-Broadway productions.

She is best known for her role in the 1990 TV crime drama Law & Order as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren.

Before that she had appeared as a guest cast on the 1984 Cosby Show, and as a regular cast in Pee-wee’s Playhouse in 1986.

She featured in Chicago Fire (2012), Chicago P.D. (2014), and Chicago Med (2015) as Sharon Goodwin.

Her work in “Birdie Blue” earned her a Village Voice Obie Award in 2006.

7. Patti Labelle

Born Patricia Louise Holte (May 24, 1944), LaBelle is a renowned American R&B singer and actress. She began her career in 1960 as part of the Ordettes singing group.

She later formed the vocal group Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles where she was the lead singer.

Her work in television included The Patti LaBelle Show. She was featured in Cosby, All Of Us, Empire, Daytime Divas, A Family Christmas Gift and The Neighborhood.

She has also been involved in films such as Preaching to the Choir, Cover, Semi-Pro, and Mama, I Want to Sing!

8. Lynn Whitfield

Whitfield was born on February 15, 1953. She is a renowned actress and producer.

She began her acting career in 1977 making appearances in television and theatre.

Since then, she has been featured in a support role and lead cast in films such as A Thin Like Between Love and Hate, Gone Fishin’, Eve’s Bayou, Stepmom, Head of State, Madea’s Family Reunion and The Women.

Some of her work in television includes The Cosby Mysteries, Heartbeat, and Greenleaf, where she played the main cast.

Whitfield is an honorary member of the African-American Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, following in her mother’s footsteps.

Her work in Greenleaf earned her several awards, including the NAACP Image Awards and Gracie Awards.

The TV movie The Josephine Baker Story, where she was cast as Josephine Baker earned her an Emmy Award in 1991.

9. Diana Ross

Diana was born on March 26, 1944. She is a renowned R&B, soul, pop, disco, and dance singer.

She is also an actress who made her first debut in film in 1972.

At the time, she was cast in the film Lady Sings the Blues as Billie Holiday, a role that saw her win the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture.

Diana holds two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She has made guest appearances in a variety of TV shows over the years, including several of her own talk shows.

10. Alfre Woodard

Woodard was born on November 8, 1952. She began her acting career in 1973 starting in theatre plays.

However, it wasn’t until 1977 that she gained recognition for her Off-Broadway play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow in Enuf.

After that, she started making film debuts and later made appearances in TV shows. In 2020, she was ranked as one of “The 25 greatest actors of the 21st century” by the New York Times.

She was featured in 12 Years a Slave alongside Lupita Nyong’o, as well as Annabelle, Captain America: Civil War, the remake of The Lion King, and the 2022 film The Gray Man.

11. Gladys Knight

Gladys Maria Knight, otherwise known as The Empress of Soul, was born on May 28, 1944. She is a singer-songwriter, actress, author, and businesswoman.

She made her first acting debut in 1976 for the film Pipe Dreams, where she was cast as the lead character Maria Wilson.

She has also been featured in the 2003 film Hollywood Homicide and 2009 Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself.

In television, she starred in The Gladys Knight and the Pips Show in 1975. Since then, she has been featured in a variety of TV shows as a guest star, special guest, and co-star.

12. CCH Pounder

Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder was born on December 25, 1952. She began her acting career in 1979 when she was cast in the film All That Jazz.

She was featured as a recurring character on the 1994 ER, where she played Dr. Angela Hicks.

Among many of her works is the police drama The Shield that ran from 2002 to 2008, where she was cast as Detective Claudette Wyms. She was also the main cast in Brothers (2009) and NCIS: New Orleans (2014-2021).the

In film, she had been featured in Avatar, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Avatar: The way of Water.

She is currently working on Rustin and Avatar 3 which are in their post-production stages.

13. Leslie Uggams

Born Leslie Marian Uggams on May 25, 1943, she started her career at the very tender age of 8 playing Ethel Walter’s niece in Beulah.

Uggams is a singer and actress, mostly known for her role in the TV show Roots as Kizzy Kinte Reynolds.

Throughout her career, she has won awards such as Theatre World Award and Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical in 1967 and 1968 respectively for her role in Hallelujah, Baby!

Her most famous works in TV include Empire, New Amsterdam, and the 1969 Leslie Uggams Show.

In the film, she has played support roles in Deadpool, Deadpool 2 and Deadpool 3 that is currently in filming.

Also check:15 Best Black Actresses of the 1970s and Where They Are Today

Kenyalogue Contributor


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