Here are the ten black women on television that I have liked the most. This is completely my personal opinion based on whatever I have seen on American television:
In order of appearance:
1984: Lisa Bonet (sitcom, NBC) – she played Denise Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1991 and “A Different World” from 1987 to 1989. She was beautiful! I could watch her with the sound turned off. She also reminded me of me back then: confused, well-meaning but hopelessly self-centered, head in the clouds. I liked how she had her own style.
1988: Cree Summer (sitcom, NBC) – played Freddie Brooks on “A Different World” from 1988 to 1993. Kind of like Denise Huxtable but more down to earth and more caring. I loved how she was just herself and did not care what anyone thought.
1991: Ella Joyce (sitcom, Fox) – played Eleanor Emerson from 1991 to 1994 on “Roc”, one of the best shows ever. To me she was like the perfect wife. I loved her voice too.
1991: Regina Taylor (drama, NBC) – played Lilly Harper on “I’ll Fly Away” from 1991 to 1993. One of the most fleshed-out, true-to-life black female character on American television ever, not that that is saying much. I hated how she had no serious love life – almost like she was a nun or something – but she made up for it by having more of her inner life shown.
1992: Holly Robinson Peete (sitcom, ABC) – I mainly remember her from “Hangin’ With Mr Cooper” where she played Vanessa Russell 101 times from 1992 to 1997. I could watch her too with the sound turned off. I already knew about her in 1992.
1995: Gloria Reuben (drama, NBC) – played Jeanie Boulet on “ER” from 1995 to 1999. She did get a love life! But not a happy one (boo!): her husband was unfaithful and she got Aids!
1996: Michel Martin (news, ABC) – she is now on NPR, but from 1996 to 2006 she was a reporter for Ted Koppel’s “Nightline”. A good reporter and interviewer. I wanted a show for her on MSNBC, maybe even one with Pat Buchanan!
2004: Jennifer Hudson (reality, Fox) – she came in seventh on “American Idol” in 2004. Even then, before she became famous, it seemed unfair, like strangely so even for a black contestant, like the producers wanted her off the show.
2007: Freema Agyeman (science fiction, BBC) – played Martha Jones on “Doctor Who” in 2007. Loyal, brave, intelligent – and she saved the Earth! What more could you ask for? Well, maybe a love life. She loved Doctor Who, big-time, but he only liked her. Probably the most realistic thing in the whole time-travel-and-space-alien show.
2012: Melissa Harris-Perry (news, MSNBC) – since February 2012 she has been the host of Nerdland, a news show that appears Saturday and Sunday mornings. It is almost like I had my own television show! One time she even had Sean Bell’s widow on her show. You know, like his death mattered or something.
Honourable mentions: Janice Huff (pictured above), Kim Coles, Kiki Shepard, Vanessa A. Williams, Tisha Campbell, Tichina Arnold, Cicely Tyson, Dawnn Lewis, Downtown Julie Brown, Vivian Brown (Weather Channel), Denise Nicholas.