Leslie Uggams is an actress and singer known for her roles in the television miniseries "Roots" and "Backstairs at the White House" and the t.v. show "Sing Along with Mitch." She is also well-known for work in musicals and on Broadway. Uggams discusses her career and life including being a child actor, a member of a youth gang, and singing versus acting. Uggams is currently performing in Philadelphia.
Esther Rolle played a maid in the television show Maude, a role which she hoped would subvert the racist tradition of mammy characters typically given to African American actresses. Rolle now works mostly in theater, and is featured in a production of Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding.
Moms Mabley was a regular performer at Harlem's Apollo Theater, where actress Clarice Taylor saw her perform. Taylor, best known for her role in The Cosby Show, wrote and stars in a new play about the comedian's life.
Actress Ruby Dee. Together with her husband Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, has performed on stage, screen and television for 30 years. In the early part of her career, she and her husband lived by staging church readings of black authors like Langston Hughes and Phillis Wheatley. One of their best-known projects was the 13-part PBS series, "With Ossie & Ruby," which showcased black artists like Louis Armstrong, Della Reese and Max Roach.
Comic and actress Danitra Vance. She appeared on "Saturday Night Live" during the 1985-86 season. From there she landed a part in the revue "The Colored Museum," at Joseph Papp's Public Theater. She played everything from a stewardess on a slave ship to a talking afro wig. She's currently reviving the part at the Mark Taper Theater in Los Angeles. She can also be seen in the upcoming movie "Sticky Fingers," starring Melanie Mayron, Helen Slater and Christopher Guest.
Now in her 80s, Frances Williams is still acting -- long after many of her peers have retired. She has a storied career in theater and film, and helped found nine theater companies. An advocate for meaningful roles for African Americans, she now costars in the television show Frank's Place.
Actress Pam Grier. She got her start playing tough, scantily-clad women in black exploitation films, such as "Black Mama, White Mama," "Foxy Brown," and "Sheba Baby." She played a hooker in "Fort Apache: The Bronx," and is now appearing in the new film, "The Class of 1999."
Bassett recently had the intimidating job of playing the legendary singer in the new film, "What's Love Got to Do with it." Her performance has been widely praised. Bassett's other roles include the mother of a troubled teenager in "Boyz N the Hood," and the wife of the black Muslim leader in Spike Lee's "Malcolm X."
Actress Pam Grier. She's starring in the new film Quentin Tarantino film, "Jackie Brown." She got her start playing tough, scantily-clad women in black exploitation films, such as "Black Mama, White Mama," "Foxy Brown," and "Sheba Baby." She played a hooker in "Fort Apache: The Bronx," and (REBROADCAST from 5/10/90)