Celebrating Black History Month
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Mo’Nique2 of 15
After a strong career in comedy — the UPN series The Parkers and numerous stand-up gigs — this actress showed her range as an artist with her dramatic acting chops in Precious, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Michelle Obama3 of 15
Our first lady is making history not only as an African-American woman but through her dedication to much-needed campaigns (such as her initiative to end childhood obesity), her involvement in raising daughters Sasha and Malia and her down-to-earth fashion choices.
Nicki Minaj4 of 15
Outspoken about her troubled childhood, as well as in her uber-popular songs, this rapper skyrocketed to stardom after lending her voice to a number of chart-topping rap artists’ hits. But her music isn’t the only way she put herself on the map: Nicki’s often-outrageous style has us—and fashion critics—captivated.
Shonda Rhimes5 of 15
As the creator, head writer and producer of Grey’s Anatomy (and its spin-off, Private Practice), this woman broke down barriers in the entertainment industry and earned a spot in Time magazine's Time 100 list of people who helped shape the world in 2007.
Amber Riley6 of 15
This SAG-award winning Glee cast member is an example of what amazing things can happen when you refuse to give up your dreams. Who would have thought that, after being rejected by American Idol, she would be starring in one of the most popular shows on television?
Oprah Winfrey7 of 15
Frequently referred to as the most influential woman in the world, Oprah ended her decades-long-running talk show and launched her own cable network, OWN, last year. As a philanthropist, entertainer and all-around business maven, she is one of the most successful and important women living today.
Cicely Tyson8 of 15
This Guiding Light actress and former model is part of the award-winning ensemble cast of The Help, which garnered a slew of Oscar nominations this year. She’s known for her award-winning roles in a number of films that portrayed black history and literature, including Sounder, King and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.
Queen Latifah9 of 15
In terms of career range, this woman is continually reinventing herself. From rapper to Academy Award-nominated actress, the Queen has received top recognition for her talents in film and music. As a spokesperson for brands like Jenny Craig and CoverGirl, she’s continually inspired women to reinvent themselves as well.
Joan Smalls10 of 15
This Puerto Rican-born model has walked in runway shows all over the word and lent her talents to Vogue magazine’s editorials numerous times. In 2010, she was named the new face of beauty brand Estée Lauder.
Kamala Harris11 of 15
The current Attorney General of California is the first female, first African-American and first Asian-American to ever hold the post. She’s also the first person of Indian decent to be a U.S. attorney general.
Beyoncé12 of 15
This fierce fashionista and songstress is characterized by her fearless attitude and strong work ethic. Her often-empowering songs and dedication to various charities have made her a role model to young girls and women alike. And now, she'll get to share her inspirational spirit with her newborn daughter, Blue Ivy.
Wendy Williams13 of 15
This radio-turned-TV talk show host is known not only for her fabulous wigs but her frank talk about her own past, namely her history with weight issues and drugs. Often as emotional as the guests on her show, Wendy has established a special connection with her audiences, and her show is number one in the super-competitive New York area.
Thelma J. Golden14 of 15
Now the head curator of the Studio Museum of Harlem, Thelma was fascinated by museums as a young girl and began grooming herself for her current post during adolescence, becoming an apprentice at the Met in New York City right out of high school. She’s an example of tenacity and hard work in how she not only followed her dream but took the necessary steps to make it a reality.
Whitney Houston15 of 15
While she was best known for her unmatchable voice—becoming the only artist (ever) to have seven consecutive No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, not to mention the best-selling single by a female artist in history with "I Will Always Love You"—Houston's legacy runs deeper than her unforgettable pipes. She was the first woman of color to land the cover of Seventeen magazine, and the first African-American female artist to get consistent play on MTV with her video for "How Will I Know."