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

To Black Women in Hollywood,  

There’s so much that I can write, but I’ll start off by saying thank you for giving me the opportunity to be who I am today and to do what I love as a career. Being a Black Woman in the industry certainly comes with challenges. Mainly because we’ve historically been overlooked and/or “othered” in mainstream storytelling.

Yet, you persevered so that my generation can be appreciated on and off the screen and for that I couldn’t be more grateful.  It’s safe to say that our shared icons include Angela Bassett, Issa Rae, Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Regina King, Octavia Spencer, Gabrielle Union, and Alfre Woodard to name a few. I personally appreciate every single detail of your work, and strive to be like each of you in the future. 

I especially thank trailblazers like Hattie McDaniel and Cicely Tyson. I’m eternally grateful for how they have paved the way for the insanely talented actors who inspire girls like me today.  I’m also thankful for Black Women who are moving the needle not only in front of the camera, but also as directors, in casting, writers’ rooms and in production. For those who are committed to telling stories about Black lives with care.

That in itself is a fight for not only me, but for the next generation of Black girls who dare to pursue their dreams. Thank you for the blood, sweat, and tears it took to make space for us. We promise that your strength, determination and perseverance does not go unnoticed. Because of you, we can work in an industry where we can tell powerful, influential stories that can shift perspectives….and that is exactly why we do this; to reflect and impact lives through the acting process. So, for this opportunity, I truly thank you.

As Forbes’ youngest 2020 Under 30 honoree, Shahadi Wright Joseph caught the attention of all of Hollywood, following her big screen debuts in back-to-back smash hit films, starring opposite Lupita Nyong’o in the critically acclaimed Jordan Peele thriller “Us,” and starring aside Beyoncé and Donald Glover in the live action “The Lion King” remake for Disney. Coming off both roles in movies that broke box office records, she will next be seen starring in a lead role for Amazon’s highly anticipated horror-thriller series “THEM,” to be released on April 9, 2021.