Pioneer Women: Black Entertainers Who Did It First

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  • Ethel Waters
  • Whitney Houston
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Dorothy Dandridge
  • Hattie McDaniel
  • Beyonce, Vanessa Williams
  • Cheryl Boone Isaacs
  • Halle Berry
  • Beyoncè
  • Tyra Banks
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Vanessa Williams
  • Esther Rolle
  • Cicely Tyson
  • Beverly Johnson

Dorothy Dandridge

Nearly 50 years before Halle Berry would become the first Black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, Dandridge was the first woman of color nominated for the prestigious award. The actress was recognized in 1954 for her leading role in Carmen Jones.

(Photo: 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

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