Angela Bassett

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Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett, Red Dress Collection 2007.jpg
Bassett at the 2007 Red Dress Collection for The Heart Truth campaign
BornAngela Evelyn Bassett
(1958-08-16) August 16, 1958 (age 55)
Harlem, New York, U.S.
Alma materYale University, Yale School of Drama
Years active1985–present
Spouse(s)Courtney B. Vance (m. 1997)
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Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett, Red Dress Collection 2007.jpg
Bassett at the 2007 Red Dress Collection for The Heart Truth campaign
BornAngela Evelyn Bassett
(1958-08-16) August 16, 1958 (age 55)
Harlem, New York, U.S.
Alma materYale University, Yale School of Drama
Years active1985–present
Spouse(s)Courtney B. Vance (m. 1997)

Angela Evelyn Bassett (born August 16, 1958) is an American actress. She has become well known for her biographical film roles portraying real-life women, including Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It, as well as Betty Shabazz in Malcolm X and Panther, Rosa Parks in The Rosa Parks Story, Katherine Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream, and Voletta Wallace in Notorious. She is currently starring on the FX horror series American Horror Story: Coven, as Marie Laveau.

Early life[edit]

Bassett was born in Harlem, New York on August 16, 1958, the daughter of Betty Jane and Daniel Benjamin Bassett.[1] After her parents' separation, she relocated from Winston Salem, North Carolina to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she and her sister D'nette were raised by their social worker/civil servant mother.[2][3] As her interest in entertainment developed, Angela and her sister would often put on shows, reading poems or performing popular music for their family. At Boca Ciega High School, Bassett was a cheerleader and a member of the Upward Bound college prep program, the debate team, student government, drama club and choir.

Bassett attended Yale University and received her B.A. degree in African-American studies in 1980. In 1983, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama. At Yale, Bassett met her future husband Courtney B. Vance, a 1986 graduate of the drama school. After graduation, Bassett worked as a receptionist for a beauty salon and as a photo researcher.

Bassett soon looked for acting work in the New York theater. One of her first New York performances came in 1985 when she appeared in J. E. Franklin's Black Girl at Second Stage Theatre. She appeared in two August Wilson plays at the Yale Repertory Theatre under the direction of her long-time instructor Lloyd Richards. The Wilson plays featuring Bassett were Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1984) and Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1986). In 2006, she had the opportunity to work on the Wilson canon again, starring in Fences alongside longtime collaborator Laurence Fishburne at the Pasadena Playhouse in California.


Television and film career[edit]

In 1985, Bassett made her first television appearance as a prostitute in the TV movie Doubletake. However, she made her official film debut as a news reporter in F/X (1986), for which she was required to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).[4] Bassett moved to Los Angeles and gained recognition in the films Boyz n the Hood (1991) and Malcolm X (1992). For her portrayal of Betty Shabazz, she earned an Image Award.

In 1992, Bassett played Katherine Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream. Later that year, Bassett was cast as Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993). Bassett won a Golden Globe and earned an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Turner. She was the first African-American to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

Bassett starred in three movies in 1995, which were released with varied reactions from critics: Vampire in Brooklyn, Strange Days, and Waiting to Exhale (where she worked with author Terry McMillan). In Strange Days, Bassett played Lornette "Mace" Mason, a chauffeur and bodyguard. In Vampire in Brooklyn, she played Rita Veder, a tortured cop with a dark secret. Bassett's character in Waiting to Exhale, Bernadine Harris, was betrayed by her husband and in revenge she set fire to his entire wardrobe and vehicle, then sold what was left for one dollar.

In 1998, Bassett starred in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, once again collaborating with McMillan. She played Stella, a 40-year-old American professional woman who falls in love with a 20-year-old Jamaican man. In 1999, Bassett starred in Music of the Heart, once collaborating with the horror icon Wes Craven. In 2000, Bassett turned down the lead role in Monster's Ball because of the script's sexual content; the role earned Halle Berry the Academy Award for Best Actress.

In 2003, she read from the WPA slave narratives in Unchained Memories. In the 1930s, about 100,000 former slaves were still living during the Great Depression, of which 2,300 were interviewed part of the Federal Writers' Project. The transcripts of the Slave Narratives collection of the Library of Congress is a record of slavery, bondage and misery.

Bassett joined the regular cast of ER for the show's final season (2008–2009). She portrayed Dr. Catherine Banfield, an exacting Chief of the ER who was also working to recover from the death of a son and to bring another child into her family. Bassett's husband Courtney Vance played her television husband on ER as Russell Banfield. As well, Angela appeared in a heart breaking,and inspiring family movie called "of Boys and Men" in 2008(Wikipedia;Bounce tv). She co-starred along side Robert Townsend, who played her husband in this movie.

In 2010, Bassett lent her voice to portray First Lady Michelle Obama[5] on an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Stealing First Base". Bassett was also cast in the superhero film Green Lantern, released in 2011, as notable DC Comics character Amanda Waller.[6]

In 2010, reported that Bassett would have a role in One Police Plaza.[7]

In 2011, Bassett co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson in the play The Mountaintop a fictionalized depiction of the night before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King (Jackson portrays MLK) while at the Lorraine Motel. The critically acclaimed play by Katori Hall originally debuted in London's West End in 2009 and went on to win the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best New Play. The production opened on Broadway on October 13, 2011. Bassett recently appeared as Secret Service director Lynne Jacobs in the action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, released in March 22, 2013. Bassett currently appears on FOX TV show American Horror Story: Coven [8] as Marie Laveau, a voodoo witch.

Personal life[edit]

Bassett with her husband, Courtney B. Vance, March 1, 2007

Bassett married actor Courtney B. Vance in 1997. In the summer of 2005, they starred together in a production of His Girl Friday at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The couple's children – son Slater Josiah and daughter Bronwyn Golden - were born on January 27, 2006.[9][10][11]

Bassett is an avid supporter of programs for the Arts, especially for youth. She annually attends events for children with diabetes and those in foster homes. She is an active Ambassador of UNICEF for the USA. Bassett is a big supporter of the Royal Theater Boys & Girls Club in her hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. The Club is one of the first all performing arts Boys & Girls Clubs in the country.

She is represented by the Executive Speakers Bureau of Memphis.[12]

Bassett was initiated as an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. on July 13, 2013.[13]

Angela and her husband and their children live in Los Angeles.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations
YearAssociationCategoryNominated workResult
1994Academy AwardBest ActressWhat's Love Got to Do with ItNominated
1994Chicago Film Critics Association AwardBest ActressWhat's Love Go to Do with ItNominated
1994Golden Globe AwardBest Actress – Motion Picture Musical or ComedyWhat's Love Got to Do with ItWon
1994MTV Movie AwardBest Female PerformanceWhat's Love Got to Do with ItNominated
1995Image AwardOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion PictureMalcolm XWon
1995Image AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Motion PictureWhat's Love Got to Do with ItWon
1996Daytime Emmy AwardOutstanding Performer in a Children's SeriesStorytimeNominated
1996Image AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Motion PictureWaiting to ExhaleWon
1998Image AwardOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion PictureContactNominated
1996Saturn AwardBest ActressStrange DaysWon
1999Image AwardOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureHow Stella Got Her Groove BackWon
2000Black Reel AwardBest Supporting ActressMusic of the HeartNominated
2000Image AwardOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion PictureMusic of the HeartWon
2001BET AwardBest ActressBoesman and LenaNominated
2001Black Reel AwardBest ActressBoesman and LenaNominated
2001Image AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Motion PictureBoesman and LenaNominated
2002BET AwardBest ActressThe Rosa Parks StoryNominated
2002BET AwardBest ActressThe ScoreNominated
2002Black Reel AwardBest Actress on TelevisionRuby's Bucket of BloodWon
2002Image AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Motion PictureThe ScoreWon
2002Image AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Television FilmRuby's Bucket of BloodWon
2002Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a MovieThe Rosa Parks StoryNominated
2002Screen Actors Guild AwardOutstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television MovieRuby's Bucket of BloodNominated
2003Black Reel AwardBest Actress on TelevisionThe Rosa Parks StoryWon
2003Black Reel AwardBest ActressThe Sunshine StateWon
2003Daytime Emmy AwardOutstanding Children's SpecialOur AmericaNominated
2003Image AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Television FilmThe Rosa Parks StoryWon
2003Image AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Motion PictureThe Sunshine StateWon
2005BET AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Theatrical FilmMr. 3000Nominated
2005Black Reel AwardBest ActressMr. 3000Nominated
2005Image AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Motion PictureMr. 3000Nominated
2006Black Movie AwardsOutstanding Supporting ActressAkeelah and the BeeNominated
2007BET AwardBest ActressAkeelah and the BeeNominated
2007Black Reel AwardBest Supporting ActressAkeelah and the BeeNominated
2007Image AwardOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion PictureAkeelah and the BeeNominated
2008BET AwardBest ActressMeet the BrownsNominated
2009BET AwardBest ActressERNominated
2009BET AwardBest ActressNotoriousNominated
2009Image AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Motion PictureMeet the BrownsNominated
2009Image AwardOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesERWon
2012BET AwardBest ActressJumping the BroomNominated
2012Black Reel AwardBest Supporting ActressJumping the BroomNominated
2014Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television MovieBetty & CorettaPending



1986F/XTV Reporter
1986LibertyLinda ThorntonTelevision movie
1988DoubletakeProstitute at HeadquartersTelevision movie
1990Kindergarten CopStewardess
1990Family of SpiesBev AndressTelevision movie
1990ChallengerCheryl McNairTelevision movie
1990In the Best Interest of the ChildLoriTelevision movie
1990Perry Mason: In the Case of the Silenced SingerCarla PetersTelevision movie
1991Line of Fire: The Morris Dees StoryPatTelevision movie
1991Critters 4Fran
1991Boyz n the HoodReva Devereaux
1991Heroes of Desert Storm, TheThe Heroes of Desert StormLt. Phoebe JeterTelevision movie
1991Locked Up: A Mother's RageWillieTelevision movie
1991One Special VictoryLoisTelevision movie
1991City of HopeReesha
1991Fire: Trapped on the 37th FloorAllisonTelevision movie
1992Passion FishDawn/Rhonda
1992Innocent BloodU.S. Attorney Sinclair
1992Jacksons: An American Dream, TheThe Jacksons: An American DreamKatherine JacksonTelevision movie
1992Malcolm XBetty Shabazz
1993What's Love Got to Do with ItAnna Mae Bullock/Tina Turner
1995Vampire in BrooklynDet. Rita Veder
1995PantherBetty Shabazz
1995Strange DaysLornette 'Mace' Mason
1995Waiting to ExhaleBernadine 'Bernie' Harris
1997ContactRachel Constantine
1998How Stella Got Her Groove BackStella
1999Our Friend, MartinMiles' MomVoice role
1999Music of the HeartPrincipal Janet Williams
2000SupernovaDr. Kaela Evers
2000Whispers: An Elephant's TaleGrooveVoice role
2000Boesman and LenaLena
2001Score, TheThe ScoreDiane
2001Ruby's Bucket of BloodRuby DelacroixTelevision movie
2002Sunshine StateDesiree Stokes Perry
2002The Rosa Parks StoryRosa ParksTelevision movie
2003Unchained MemoriesReader
2003Masked and AnonymousMistress
2004Lazarus Child, TheThe Lazarus ChildDr. Elizabeth Chase
2004Mr. 3000Maureen 'Mo' Simmons
2005Mr. & Mrs. SmithMr. Smith's BossUncredited voice role
2006Akeelah and the BeeTanya Anderson
2006Time BombJill GrecoTelevision movie
2007Meet the RobinsonsMildredVoice role
2008Gospel HillSarah Malcolm
2008Of Boys and MenRieta Cole
2008Meet the BrownsBrenda Brown
2008Nothing But the TruthBonnie Benjamin
2009NotoriousVoletta Wallace
2011Jumping the BroomMrs. Watson
2011Green LanternAmanda Waller
2012This Means WarCollins
2012I Ain't Scared Of YouHerself
2013Betty & CorettaCoretta Scott KingTelevision movie
2013Olympus Has FallenLynne Jacobs
2013Black NativityAngela CobbsPost-production


1985Spenser: For HireJoe's DaughterEpisode: "The Choice"
1985Cosby Show, TheThe Cosby ShowMrs. MitchellEpisode: "Mr. Quiet"
1987Ryan's HopeLeonie PeachUnknown episodes
1988Cosby Show, TheThe Cosby ShowPaulaEpisode: "Bookworm"
1989Man Called Hawk, AA Man Called HawkBailey Webster3 episodes
1989Tour of DutyLt. Camilla Patterson2 episodes
1989227Amy BurnettEpisode: "A Pampered Tale"
1989ThirtysomethingKate HarritonEpisode: "Legacy"
1990Alien NationRenee LongstreetEpisode: "Eyewitness News"
1990Equal JusticeJanet FieldsEpisode: "Goodbye, Judge Green"
1991Flash, TheThe FlashLinda LakeEpisode: "Beat the Clock"
1991StatDr. Willie BurnsEpisode: "Ladyfinger"
1992Nightmare CafeEvelynEpisode: "Sanctuary for a Child"
1995Get SmartUncredited role as Runway ModelEpisode: "Pilot"
2003Freedom: A History of UsSheyann WebbEpisode: "Marching to Freedom Land"
2003Freedom: A History of UsMelba PattilloEpisode: "Let Freedom Ring"
2003The Bernie Mac ShowHerselfEpisode: Laughing Matters
2005AliasCIA Director Hayden Chase4 episodes
2008–2009ERDr. Cate Banfield21 episodes
2010Simpsons, TheThe SimpsonsFirst Lady Michelle ObamaEpisode: "Stealing First Base"
2013–2014American Horror Story: CovenMarie Laveau10 episodes


  1. ^ Excerpt from "FRIENDS: A Love Story" Faithful
  2. ^ "Angela Bassett Biography (1958–)". Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  3. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (1993-06-23). "As Tina Turner, Wig to High Heels –". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  4. ^ "How Did You Get Your SAG-AFTRA Card?" TV Guide. January 13, 2014. p. 10.
  5. ^ "FoxFlash". FoxFlash. Archived from the original on 24 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  6. ^ By (2010-03-24). "Angela Bassett joins 'Green Lantern' Cast @ Variety". Archived from the original on 28 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  7. ^ "Angela Bassett Cast in ABC's One Police Plaza". Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Angela Bassett Cast in ABC's One Police Plaza". Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  9. ^ Introducing Slater and Bronwyn ANGELA, COURTNEY, SLATER & BRONWYN at People Magazine Photo Special
  10. ^ "ANGELA BASSETT IS A BUSY WORKING MOM" September 19, 2008, Black Celeb Kids
  11. ^ "Bssett and Vance On Oprah" Oprahcom
  12. ^ "Executive Speakers Bureau, Angela Bassett". Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  13. ^ "[Photos] Actress Angela Bassett & Susan L Taylor Become Members of Delta Sigma Theta". theJasmineBRAND. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 

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