Profiles in Black History- Dorothy Dandridge


She was a singer, actress, and international star  who became the first African American woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. (1955) This was for an all black (rare at the time) cast movie titled Carmen Jones. In the film she stars in the lead role as Carmen, the unapologetic, independent, and fierce woman. Dandridge grew up in L.A.and as a child she would perform with her sisters. Eventually, she became a successful nightclub singer performing at many Harlem Renaissance-era places like The Apollo and The Cotton Club. Other films of hers include Porgy and Bess (1959), Ran Red (1958), and Moment of Danger (1960). She was the blueprint for black actresses not only in film but in the overall entertainment industry today. In the 2000 film about her life titled Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Halle Berry stars as her. This moment becomes full circle because Halle Berry became the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress in 2002, a road that Dandridge certainly paved. Berry also won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Motion Picture for her portrayal. In 2020, Netflix released a documentary series entitled They’re Gotta Have Us , which takes people into the foundations of black cinema in Hollywood. In that series, Dandridge’s breakout film Carmen Jones’s impact is expanded upon. Her co-star in the movie, Harry Belafontae, talks about how it changed the way people viewed African Americans  and their relationships. Her legacy is one that will never be forgotten by me, and is one that more people should learn about. In 1954, at a time of racial segregation and discrimination,  she brought a fierce- feminist black woman to screen. That is definitely something for the history books.