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12 Upcoming Movies Starring Black Actresses as Leading Ladies

Avatar • May 14, 2016

The years 2016 and 2017 are shaping up to a BIG period for black women in Hollywood. Never before have we seen so many movies featuring black actresses in prominent, influential roles on the big screen!!  From a potential love interest of a Marvel superhero to NASA mathematicians and more, Lupita and others are about to slay the cinemas. Here are ten such movies, most of which will be in the theaters (two will be on TV) very soon.  Additionally, we’ve included two movies that you can catch now.

1. Lupita Nyong’o in Black Panther

Lupita and Shuri

The rebooted Black Panther was introduced in “Captain America: Civil War” via the character T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Now the superhero will have his own Marvel film, which is set for release in 2018.  While this is big news in itself (yay to black superheroes!), it does not stop there.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lupita is in talks for a prominent role as T’Challa’s love interest.  Production starts in 2017, and the release date is set for February 16, 2018.

2. Janelle Monae, Taraji Henson, and Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures

Octavia Spencer, Taraji Henson, Janelle Monae

Octavia Spencer, Taraji Henson, Janelle Monae

Production is underway for the film Hidden Figures based on the untold story of the “African American women mathematicians who helped NASA and the United States win the Space race”.  While the novel (written by Margot Lee Shetterly) will be available in September, the movie is set to drop on January 13, 2017 in the United States and February 24, 2017 in the United Kingdom.

3. Danai Gurira as Afeni Shakur in Tupac biopic All Eyez On Me.

Danai Gurira will play Tupac's mother Afeni Shakur in the biopic. Source: Daily News

Danai Gurira will play Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur in the biopic. Source: Daily News

The Tupac biopic, All Eyez on Me, is set for release on November 11, 2016 according to IMDB.  The film will chronicle the rapper’s life and death while featuring The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira as Tupac’s mother, the late Afeni Shakur.

4. Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Nalwanga in Queen of Katwe

The Queen of Katwe

This film is based on the true story of a Ugandan girl from a small village who discovers her chess‐playing abilities and goes on to compete internationally.  The character will be played by Madina Nalwanga while Lupita Nyong’o will play her mother.  The Disney movie opens in US and Brazil theaters on September 23.

5. Tika Sumpter as Michelle Obama in Southside With You

Tika Sumpter as the young Michelle Obama.

Tika Sumpter as the young Michelle Obama.

This film will chronicle President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s first date in 1989.  It premiered at the 2016 Sundance Festival with great reviews.  The movie is a Chicago romance and set to release on August 26, 2016 in the US.

6. Aja Naomi King and Gabrielle Union in Birth of a Nation

Nate Parker and Aja Naomi King. Source: Clutch Magazine

Nate Parker and Aja Naomi King. Source: Clutch Magazine

Gabrielle Union, Nate Parker, Aja Naomi King. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)

Gabrielle Union, Nate Parker, Aja Naomi King. (Closeup of Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)

This film, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and brokered the largest festival deal ($17.5 million) in history, is based on the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in 1831.  Nate Parker wrote, produced, and directed the movie and also starred as Nat Turner.  Aja Naomi King will play Turner’s wife, Cherry, while Gabrielle Union’s role is yet to be revealed.  The film is set for release in the US (October 7, 2016), UK (January 20, 2017), Germany (January 19, 2017), South Africa (January 20, 2017), and France (February 1, 2017).

7. Misty Copeland Biopic

Misty Copeland

Source: mistycopeland.com

According to Deadline, New Line has just acquired the Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina autobiography of Misty Copeland, the first black woman to be named principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater.  There is no word yet on who will be playing Copeland on the big screen or when the film will start production, but the screenwriter will be Gregory Allen Howard, whose credits include Remember the Titans and Ali.

8. Oprah in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Oprah - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Oprah will play Deborah Lacks, the daughter of Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose cancerous cells were taken without her knowledge and eventually used to create the first immortal human cell line.  (You can read our BGLH post on “The Incredible and Tragic Story of Henrietta Lacks: The Only Known Human With Immortal Cells”.)  This adaptation of the book by Rebecca Skloot will begin filming this summer for HBO.

9. Viola Davis in Harriet Tubman Biopic

Viola Davis - Harriet Tubman Biopic

Viola Davis will play Harriet Tubman, who led hundreds of slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad.  The biopic is set to begin production in 2017 for HBO.

10. Biopic on Kevin Durant’s Mom

Actress Cassandra Freeman (L) and the real Wanda Durant (R). Photo credit: Bettina Strauss

Actress Cassandra Freeman (L) and the real Wanda Durant ®. Photo credit: Bettina Strauss

The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story is a Lifetime film about the struggles and triumphs of NBA player Kevin Durant’s mother as she raises her boys.  Though the biopic aired on Mother’s Day, reruns may appear on Lifetime.

11. Dionne Warwick Biopic

Dionne Warwick and LeToya Luckett Gary Gershoff/WireImage/Jason LaVeris/WireImage Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Dionne Warwick and LeToya Luckett
Gary Gershoff/WireImage/Jason LaVeris/WireImage Source: The Hollywood Reporter

At the Cannes Film Festival, Dionne Warwick announced that Letoya Luckett will play her in this biopic.  The film will chronicle the singer’s life and career over the decades.  Production is set to start later this year.

12. Kerry Washington as Anita Hill in Confirmation

Kerry Washington as Anita Hill.

Kerry Washington as Anita Hill.

Confirmation is a HBO biopic of Anita Hill regarding Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation.  Though the film aired on April 16, you may be able to catch it on HBO Now.

Have you seen or are you planning to see any of these films?

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TWA4now
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TWA4now

Excellent! Yes, I would like to see these movies if.they are playing in.my city.

Miss.
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Miss.

AWESOME!!!! We need to rally and support these movies…As racist as Hollywood is, money still talks loudly to those in control…

Felicity Muffin
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Felicity Muffin

Is that all we black actors/actresses can do to make waves? Star in remakes of historical figures, movies set in Africa, and about slavery!? Can’t we have us star in an American movie that takes place in modern day!? Screw it I’ll make one myself!

Mimi Voila
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Mimi Voila

Yes!!!! you took the words out of my mouth. This is actually sad. Not a single original story!!!

Glazzwiny
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Glazzwiny

It’s pretty obvious that they needed black people for those movies. And that’s a big step!

But what about having black actresses in leading role in original & fictionnal movies non related to black people history?

That’s the change we’re looking forward to.

Bella
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Bella

Totally agree with Felicity! I thought these were movies where I was going to be represented. Not a remake or a biopic or historic or a slavery film. ?

Claudette UK
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Claudette UK

If our people are in them I will watch them. Thanks for this post. Hopefully they will come to UK cinemas.

LadyJustice
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LadyJustice

Its great to see these stories told especially on the big screen. However im still waiting for the time when we’ll see some more variety with regard to genre. Biopics are awesome and all…but id love to see these women in science fiction, psychological thrillers, and dramas based in todays time or in the future.

Homer Gee Greene Jr
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Again, #BlackGirlMagic. Keep making films and keep telling our stories. I am really looking forward to seeing the Black Panther!

Zahira Moon
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Zahira Moon

Danai gurira the best

Light year
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Light year

yes!!!

Dee
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Dee

OMG! Im so excited!!

alezsu
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alezsu

I was thinking just this. I think the biopics and historical films are fantastic and are telling some much‐needed stories, but where’s the variety?

Jayda
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Jayda

You forgot about the actress Alexandra Shipp, playing Storm in the new X‐Men movie 🙂

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Danell
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Danell

There is also a Biopic about the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau coming out next year starring Rachel True.

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katelynn767 .
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katelynn767 .

A lot of biopics…

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