Leading Women Defined: Diahann Carroll

Take a look at the trailblazing career of the actress.

Leading Women Defined: Diahann Carroll - BET?s 2013 Leading Women Defined summit honors legendary African-American actress of both stage and screen, Diahann Carroll. BET.com takes a look at the trailblazing career of this extraordinary woman. ? Naeesa Aziz  (Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images For Women In Film Crystal + Lucy Awards)

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Leading Women Defined: Diahann Carroll - BET’s 2013 Leading Women Defined summit honors legendary African-American actress of both stage and screen, Diahann Carroll. BET.com takes a look at the trailblazing career of this extraordinary woman. — Naeesa Aziz (Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images For Women In Film Crystal + Lucy Awards)

Bronx Beginnings - Diahann Carroll was born in the Bronx, New York City, on July 17, 1935, and began her lifelong career in the arts as a student at Manhattan's School of Performing Arts. (Photo: PA Photos /Landov)

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Bronx Beginnings - Diahann Carroll was born in the Bronx, New York City, on July 17, 1935, and began her lifelong career in the arts as a student at Manhattan's School of Performing Arts. (Photo: PA Photos /Landov)

Diahann Carroll in The Omega Man - This gorgeous and elegant actress was the studio's first choice for playing plague survivor Lisa in this sci-fi classic (which was later remade into I am Legend starring Will Smith), but star Charlton Heston, who had a big say in casting, felt she wasn't "ghetto" enough for the part and wouldn't be able to relate to Lisa's experiences. It's called acting, Chuck!(Photo: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Pictures)

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Breakout Year - In 1954, Carroll received her two big breaks when she snagged a role in the Broadway musical House of Flowers and the film Carmen Jones, alongside Dorothy Dandridge. (Photo: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Pictures)

Best Actress - Carroll went on to star in a string of high-profile roles, becoming the first African-American woman to win a Tony Award for Best Actress for her performance in the play No Strings in 1962. She also received an Academy Award nomination for her work in the film Claudine in 1974. (Photo: GAB Archive/Redferns)

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Best Actress - Carroll went on to star in a string of high-profile roles, becoming the first African-American woman to win a Tony Award for Best Actress for her performance in the play No Strings in 1962. She also received an Academy Award nomination for her work in the film Claudine in 1974. (Photo: GAB Archive/Redferns)

High Profile Romance  - Carroll was married four times, but one of her most publicized romances was with fellow veteran actor Sidney Poitier, whom she met in 1961 while the two were working on the set of the film Paris Blues.  (Photo: Pennebaker Productions)

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High Profile Romance - Carroll was married four times, but one of her most publicized romances was with fellow veteran actor Sidney Poitier, whom she met in 1961 while the two were working on the set of the film Paris Blues. (Photo: Pennebaker Productions)

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Julia - Carroll broke barriers again in 1968 when she was the first Black woman to land a lead in a network television show. At a time when Black women were typically depicted in media as maids and cooks, Carroll?s character was a nurse. Her work on Julia increased her popularity and earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series in 1968.(Photo: NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images)

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Julia - Carroll broke barriers again in 1968 when she was the first Black woman to land a lead in a network television show. At a time when Black women were typically depicted in media as maids and cooks, Carroll’s character was a nurse. Her work on Julia increased her popularity and earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series in 1968.(Photo: NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images)

Dynasty - Constantly choosing diverse roles, Carroll went from a struggling single mother in Julia to wealthy jetsetter Dominique Deveraux in the hit television show Dynasty in 1984.  (Photo: Courtesy ABC)

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Dynasty - Constantly choosing diverse roles, Carroll went from a struggling single mother in Julia to wealthy jetsetter Dominique Deveraux in the hit television show Dynasty in 1984. (Photo: Courtesy ABC)

The Five Heartbeats - In 1991, Carroll starred in classic musical drama The Five Heartbeats, appearing alongside actor Chuck Patterson. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox Films)

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The Five Heartbeats - In 1991, Carroll starred in classic musical drama The Five Heartbeats, appearing alongside actor Chuck Patterson. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox Films)

Seasoned Actress - Some of Carroll?s more recent memorable roles include Whitley?s mother on the sitcom A Different World, Aunt Ruthie on Soul Food, Jane Burke on Grey?s Anatomy and a savvy widow on White Collar. (Photo: ABC)

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Seasoned Actress - Some of Carroll’s more recent memorable roles include Whitley’s mother on the sitcom A Different World, Aunt Ruthie on Soul Food, Jane Burke on Grey’s Anatomy and a savvy widow on White Collar. (Photo: ABC)

Soul Survivor - Carroll was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and is now cancer-free after undergoing a lumpectomy and radiation treatments. Today, Carroll continues to be an advocate for breast health.  (Photo: Fernando Leon/PictureGroup)

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Soul Survivor - Carroll was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and is now cancer-free after undergoing a lumpectomy and radiation treatments. Today, Carroll continues to be an advocate for breast health. (Photo: Fernando Leon/PictureGroup)