Pioneer Women: Black Entertainers Who Did It First

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  • Cicely Tyson
  • Beverly Johnson
  • 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

Ethel Waters

She paved the way for Olivia Pope! In 1939, Waters became the first Black woman to headline her own television show, The Ethel Waters Show.  

(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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