The LIT History Series is for the Legends, Innovators and Trailblazers that have shaped our culture. I love history, and in turn, I love black history. So much of our culture has been defined by those who've come before us, so I write this to capture and chronicle our narratives. Black history should be celebrated for more than just one month out of the year. In honor of the most historic Tony Awards to date, the first article in the LIT History Series focuses on actress, singer, and all-around diva, Diahann Carroll. Photo: Masterworksbroadway I was first introduced to Diahann Carroll when I was a kid and saw her play Whitley Gilbert's mother, Marion Gilbert, on A Different World. As I got older and learned more about her, I came to admire her style, grace, and the strides that she has made for Black women in television, film and theater. In 1962, she became the first black woman to win the Tony Award for Best Actress and the first black woman to star in her own TV show, Julia, in a non-stereotypical role. Carroll grew up in Harlem and was also a classmate of Billy Dee Williams. At age 15, she became a model for Ebony magazine. By age 18, she got her "big break" as a contestant and winner on the game show Chance of a Lifetime in 1954.
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