Angela Bassett: A Formidable Force Who Reminds Us the Best Is Yet to Come

Angela Bassett, Women's History Month

Actress. Director. Producer. When I think about forces in Hollywood who have withstood the test of time -- on their own merit and without compromise -- an image of a captivating woman with a million-dollar smile and perfectly chiseled arms comes to mind. With more than four decades in the industry, Angela Bassett really needs no introduction. She's a dominant force who has a timeless presence that only gets better with age. In honor of Women's History Month, I salute you, Angela.

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Angela commands respect without the need to be overbearing. She's classically trained, calculated, disciplined, and not afraid to let her hair down -- making her all the more enjoyable.

Who She Is

Angela Bassett is a Golden Globe winner and Academy Award-nominated actress who has starred in more than 40 films and more than a dozen television series, and has lent her voice to both animated features and video games. She is a wife of almost 20 years to actor Courtney B. Vance (who is starring as Johnnie Cochran in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) and proud mother of 10-year-old twins -- son Slater and daughter Bronwyn.

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Angela is a chameleon -- on the big screen, television, and theater stage.

Whether you know her as Tina Turner from the acclaimed biopic What's Love Got to Do With It, Katherine Jackson from The Jacksons: An American Dream, or Bernadine from Waiting to Exhale, Angela loves showing off her acting range and prowess. She also enjoys slaying in the historical figure department, playing Rosa Parks, Dr. Betty Shabazz (twice!), and Coretta Scott King.

And, just when you think Ms. Bassett is all about being serious, she switches things up, taking on unexpected roles only a badass like herself can bring to life. Angela's work on American Horror Story (she earned Emmy nominations for her roles two years in a row) over the past few years has been nothing short of entertaining. She delivers her talent in such a way that makes you question whether or not what you saw was actually real.

How She Is Shaping History

Born in New York City, Angela relocated with her younger sister and her mother to a housing project in St. Petersburg, Florida, shortly after her parents split. Angela was one of the first students to attend an integrated school for the first time in the southern town's history. She is also the first black student to join the National Honor Society in her high school.

Angela's body of work, her professionalism, and her dedication to her craft continue to set the standard for what it means to be successful. Her staying power in Hollywood is a testament to Angela's ability to transform into the characters she portrays. 

More from The Stir: 15 Unforgettable Black Women Who Make Us Want to Stand Up & Get Something Done

Simply put: We remember history not just because of pioneers who made remarkable contributions to our society, but also because of those, like Angela, who tell their story. Angela has devoted her life to helping storytellers' dreams become a visual reality. In many ways, she has forged a path to bring influential figures in the black community back to life, helping to ensure their contributions will never be forgotten.

Her Words to Live By

There are so many great takeaways we can learn from Ms. Bassett, and the first is to be fearless.

The 57-year-old stresses the importance of seizing the moment and reaching for your dreams:

Don't be afraid of anything. Get out there, and try everything. Do it all. Speak up. Be bold. Be bad. Just live it.

Angela also believes that passion is the key to answering your calling:

Just remain passionate about it. Don’t let that flame die out. Remain passionate. Stay positive. Speak positive. Believe, encourage, support. All of those things work. It can be easy to turn cynical in this profession. You have to find the good and praise it.

And no matter how tempted you are to use your "hood card," always maintain your professionalism. You never know who's watching:

I can give you the King's English, and then I can take it to the street; but do both or do one, and don't do one knowing only the street. That's going to hold you back, because what comes out is going to impress people, and it will impress them negatively.

Why She Inspires Me

As the saying goes, I have many "friends in my head," but in that mix, I also have family -- and I would consider Angela to be an auntie.

I have been a fan of her work since I saw her and Laurence Fishburne trying to keep Tre on the straight and narrow in Boyz n the Hood. Her delivery of artistic excellence is powerful and amazing to experience.

Angela inspires me to find my own voice on this journey of life, one that's not swayed by dollar signs or materialistic gain. Yes, coins are nice, but there's something to be said about doing what you love for the sake of the art instead of the promise of gain. Her portfolio is seamless and encompasses things that represent her personal brand.

More from The Stir: 50 Incredible Black Women Making History -- Right Now (PHOTOS)

Though her shelves aren't stocked with endless numbers of gold statues, Angela's greatest accomplishment is her ability to touch the lives of her audience with memorable characters.

Even in her later years (which I call her greatest years), Angela Bassett is still pursuing her dreams, and venturing into new territories. There is no stopping her hustle as her passion is aligned with both her faith and her belief in herself.

Plus, I want to look this damn good at 57.

Heading out to Golden Globes! You watching?

Posted by Angela Bassett on Sunday, January 10, 2016

(Flawless in every way.)

Photo/Makeup: D'Andre MichaelHair: #Randy StodghillStylist: #Jennifer Austin

Posted by Angela Bassett on Sunday, September 20, 2015

 


Image via Armando Gallo/Corbis 

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