This is a part of Shadow and Act’s Women’s History Month series featuring Black women tributing Black women

Thank you for the opportunity to give my flowers now to all the inspiring Black women in Hollywood who not only paved the way but reflected to me as a young Black girl with a dream, that my dream was possible too. The entertainment industry has changed a lot since I first started. There has been much progression and during this progress there are those who continue to inspire me as they push the envelope proving that there is longevity in this business and there are more areas you can excel in. 

If people only knew the imprints they make on you. I am forever thankful for many talented Black women in front and behind the camera. From the beginning, when I first started, there were many Black actresses who made an imprint on me. Whoopi Goldberg, Lynn Whitfield, Cicely Tyson, Halle Berry, Robin Givens, Theresa Randle, Regina King, Alfre Woodard, Nia Long… they lit up my TV screen and captured my attention with their talent and beauty, showcasing diverse and sometimes complicated characters. I love how many of them are still working and inspiring through all the work that they do today. Rest in peace to Queen Cicely Tyson.

Today as I watch the undeniable talents of actresses like Viola Davis, Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson, I am in awe of the depth, strength and freedom in their work as actors.

As time has gone on, I’ve become exposed to and inspired by even more talented women not only in front of the camera but behind the scenes as well. Women like Issa Rae, Mara Brock Akil, Shonda Rhimes Courtney Kemp, Ava DuVernay, and Nkechi Okoro Carroll. All these women tell really good stories. Their storytelling ability is admirable and keep millions glued to their seats watching it all play out on screen.

There are so many Black women in Hollywood to give flowers to and I feel as though I’ve only scratched the surface with my list. However, I am thankful that all of these women decided to follow their dreams because they have not only entertained and educated us with their work, they have led the way and inspired so many of us to do the same. 

Karimah Westbrook currently stars on The CW’s football drama series, All  American.