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

To Black Women in the Entertainment Industry,  

The resilient ones.  

As I study the word resilient, I understand that suffering is apart of human existence. The ying and yang of life. Black women have suffered through a different type of existence but we somehow get back up and have the courage to keep on going. It’s the strength for me! We ARE indeed built differently. Because of the unstoppable determination of so many black women, I now have a seat at the table. I  grew up watching shows like Sister Sister, That’s So Raven and The Cosby Show. I later fell in love with Girlfriends, Moesha, Awkward Black Girl, How to Get away with Murder and Scandal. All of these shows have black women on them who I admire. They have and still portray a variety of black women that represent the multiple faces of black women in our close inner circles and families today. Thank you for sharing your gift. Thank you for baring your soul and enduring the battles we could not see.  

To the women who have pushed for me like Michelle Sneed, president of Tyler Perry Studios, casting legends Kim Coleman, Rhavynn Drummer, Leah Daniels-Butler, and Natasha Ward, award-winning executive VP Connie Orlando and my publicist Shannon Barr, I am infinitely grateful to all of these women for their belief in me as they have been instrumental in my success today. Their ferocity to go against the grain inspires me to continue to do great things.  

To the mentors in my head, Ava, Oprah and Michelle thank you for being the example of Black excellence and propelling black women forward. You are a gift to my growth.  

Lastly let me leave all women reading this with a jewel, get Cicely Tyson’s book. Start there.

Melissa L. Williams is the star of Tyler Perry’s Ruthless on BET+ and also appears on Tyler Perry’s The Oval on BET.