Hollywood has not always been kind to Black actresses, and it can be even more difficult when they identify as LGBTQ. This Pride month, I want to highlight some incredible Black LGBTQ actresses paving the way in Hollywood.
I want to start this article by saying this is not a comprehensive list of the amazing Black talent we have in Hollywood. This article focuses on three Black LGBTQ actresses who have specifically acted in movies. I want to give these Hollywood actresses the spotlight they deserve for all their wonderful work.
Amandla Stenberg is only 21 years old and accomplishing incredible things in both Hollywood and beyond. Stenberg, part of the LGBTQ community, identifies as non-binary and uses both she/her/hers and they/them/theirs pronouns. In 2018, she came out as gay, but had previously used the terms bisexual and pansexual to describe herself.
The Hunger Games gave Stenberg their big break in Hollywood as they brought Rue to life from the book series of the same name. In 2017, she starred as Maddy Whittier in Everything, Everything. She brought Starr Carter to life in The Hate U Give, a movie about the Black Lives Matter movement and the injustice of police brutality.
Laverne Cox is a Black transgender actress and activist paving the way in Hollywood. She has broken down barriers left and right for LGBTQ people in Hollywood, but especially for trans people. In 2015, Cox’s documentary Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word was the first trans specific documentary to win a Daytime Emmy. Cox also won the Outstanding Special Class Special Daytime Emmy that year. This made her the first trans woman to win the award as an Executive Producer.
Cox shot to fame as Sophia Burset, a Black trans woman, on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. Besides her television roles, Cox has also starred in films. She was in the acclaimed movie Grandma and lesser known Freak Show. Cox also made an appearance as a bomb instructor in the 2019 reboot of Charlie’s Angels.
Kiersey Clemons does not have the same fame as Stenberg or Cox but is still making waves in Hollywood as a Black LGBTQ actress. Clemons identifies as queer, a word being reclaimed by the LGBTQ community.*
In 2016, she starred as Beth alongside Seth Rogen in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Clemons also has musical talent, starring in the movie musical Hearts Beat Loud and 2019’s Rent: Live. Her most recent role was Dee Dee Skyes in the animated film Scoob! (another very talented writer talked about that film here.)
Like I mentioned before, this is not an all-inclusive list of Black LGBTQ actresses in Hollywood. I wanted to focus specifically on three talented Black LGBTQ actresses who have been in major films. Hollywood hasn’t always been the most diverse and has a long way to go for equal representation for all people. For now though, these Black LGBTQ actresses are bringing a voice to populations Hollywood previously ignored.
*I want to note that it is not okay to call someone ‘queer’ without their permission. Many people in the LGBTQ community still dislike that word because it was a slur and do not want it used regarding themselves. Identifying as this word is an individual choice. If you wish to talk about this community, still refer to it as the ‘LGBTQ’ community.