What's Love Got to Do with It
African-American actress Angela Bassett initially gained notice when she was cast as Betty Shabazz, the wife of civil rights leader Malcolm X, in Spike Lee's biopic Malcolm X (1992), in which she earned a NAACP Image Award. She even received more notice for her portrayal as the music legend Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993). Bassett's spectacular performance handed her a NAACP Image Award, and Golden Globe, as well as an Oscar nomination. Bassett, who has specialized in playing strong women, again captured the attention of the public after playing Bernadine 'Bernie' Harris in the adaptation of Terry McMillan's hit novel Waiting to Exhale (1995). Angela was awarded a NAACP Image Award in 1996 for her starring role in the film.
In 1998, she also won the NAACP Image Award for her outstanding performance in How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998). In recent movies, the actress also received recognition for her significant performance as Danny Glover's wife Lena in Boesman and Lena in (2001) and Robert De Niro's love interest Diane in The Score (2001), in which she won NAACP Awards in 2001 and 2002.
On the small screen, Angela Bassett also made a name for herself after having a character role in Ruby's Bucket of Blood (2001). Do to her brilliant performance, she was honored with a NAACP Award and a nomination at SAG. Additionally, Bassett's performance in CBS' biopic The Rosa Parks Story (2002) brought her a Black Reel Award and an Emmy nomination.
Off screen, Bassett, who was paid $3,500,000.00 for SUPERNOVA (2000) and $3,500,000.00 for THE SCORE (2001), reportedly came out swinging against Halle Berry and her Oscar-winning performance in Monster Ball by saying it's shameful for black actresses to play sluts. She also became headlines for joining American preacher Jesse Jackson in trade-marking the Academy Awards racially unbalanced. As for her private life, 5' 4" inch tall Basset was linked to cardiologist Mark Jenkins before marrying actor Courtney Vance on October 12, 1997.
A Raisin in the Sun
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of Betty Bassett (social worker, divorced from Angela's father), Angela Bassett was born on August 16, 1958, in New York. Along with younger sister D'nette Bassett, Angela was raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, under the guidance of her mother. Growing up in a poor family, young Angela was educated in determination and sovereignty.
Angela attended Boca Ciega High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she became the first black student at her high school to be accepted into the National Honor Society. Inspired by James Earl Jones in a production of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men while she was on a high school trip to Washington, DC, Angela considered acting as a career. At the age of 15, she made her debut as Mama in a school production of A Raisin in the Sun. She also performed monologues and poetry readings at church conventions. Since she won a scholarship, Angela continued her studies at Yale University, where she earned a B.A in African-American studies. She also spent three years at the Yale School of Drama, where she studied under stage director Lloyd Richards and received a Master of Fine Arts Degree. During her time at Yale, Angela went on acting and was seen in a number of school plays and other productions. Upon graduation, she worked at the Hartford Stage Company before relocating to New York where she performed in on and off-Broadway productions as well doing screen appearances.
Off screen, Angela met actor Courtney Vance (born on March 12, 1960) while studying at Yale University. After becoming engaged in 1997, the couple tied the knot on October 12, 1997. Angela currently resides with her husband in California.
The Rosa Parks Story
Motivated by James Earl Jones in a production of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Angela Bassett began to consider acting as a career choice. At the age of 15, Bassett made her acting debut in a school production of A Raisin in the Sun and continued to act in a number of school plays and other productions while studying at Yale. Upon graduation, Bassett worked for the Hartford Stage Company performing The Mystery Plays before moving to New York in 1985. She was then seen on Broadway when Lloyd Richards, one of Bassett's mentors at Yale, cast her in August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Bassett eventually made her on screen performance debut when she appeared in the TV-movie Doubletake (1985) and then guest starred on The Cosby Show (1985) and Spenser: For Hire (1985). In the subsequent year, Bassett landed her first feature film role in the cult favorite F/X (1986) and played a role in the made-for-TV movie Liberty (1986).
In 1988, Bassett returned to the Broadway stage by performing in August Wilson's and Joe Turner's Come and Gone, directed by Lloyd Richards, before relocating to Los Angeles.
Though she gained success on stage, Bassett had a difficult time finding more prominent roles in film and television. In 1989, she guest starred in the detective spin-off series A Man Called Hawk (1989, two appearances), the Vietnam War series Tour of Duty (1989, two appearances), 227 and Thirty Something. In the early 1990s, she kept busy with such television work as Family of Spies (1990), Challenger (1990), Perry Mason: The Case of the Silenced Singer (1990), In the Best Interest of the Child (1990), Line of Fire: The Morris Dees Story (1991), Fire! Trapped on the 37th Floor (1991), The Heroes of Desert Storm (1991), Locked Up: A Mother's Rage (1991) and One Special Victory (1991).
After receiving a supporting role in Kindergarten Cop (1990), Bassett landed her first notable role in John Singleton's acclaimed Boyz 'N the Hood (1991), playing Laurence Fishburne's estranged wife Reva Devereaux. She next had a supporting role in John Sayles' City of Hope (1991) before costarring in another Sayles' film, Passion Fish (1992), and emerging in the horror flop Innocent Blood (1992). She also starred as the matriarch of the Jackson Family in The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992,TV).
Bassett finally received recognition when she was cast as Betty Shabazz, the wife of civil rights leader Malcolm X, in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992, opposite Denzel Washington). Due to her brilliant performance, Bassett won a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.
In 1993, Bassett experienced another breakthrough moment with the release of What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), in which she portrayed music legend Tina Turner. From her portrayal, Bassett won a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture and a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) in 1993. Additionally, Bassett's spectacular performance brought her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
After lending her voice to the TBS documentary miniseries A Century of Women and keeping a low profile through 1994, Bassett returned in 1995 with roles in Vampire in Brooklyn (1995, costarring Eddie Murphy), Panther (1995, reprising the role of Betty Shabazz for an unaccredited cameo) and was seen in the sci-fi thriller Strange Days (1995).
That same year, Bassett received another big break when she and Whitney Houston costarred in the adaptation of Terry McMillan's hit novel Waiting to Exhale (1995, played Bernadine 'Bernie' Harris). In addition to the rave reviews for the film, Bassett's outstanding performance was garnered with another NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture in 1996.
The following year, Bassett teamed with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey in the 1997 sci-fi drama Contact before attracting the public's attention with a title character in the second adaptation of McMillan's novel, How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), portraying a divorcee whose dissatisfaction is well assuaged by a muscular twenty-year-old guy. The role handed her a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture in 1998. Finishing the decade, Bassett played the role of a school principal named Janet Williams in Music of the Heart (1999, starring Meryl Streep).
Entering the new millennium, the Golden Globe-winning actress provided the voice of Groove in Whispers: An Elephant's Tale (2000) after acting in another sci-fi thriller Supernova (2000). Subsequently, Bassett drew the attention of the public when she starred in Boesman and Lena in 2001, in which she (along with costar Danny Glover) received rave reviews from critics for their insightful performances as a distressed South African couple striving for stability in the face of apartheid. Moreover, Bassett's outstanding performance handed her a NAACP Award for Best Actress.
2001 was a remarkable year for Bassett when she played roles in two unforgettable films. First, she portrayed Robert De Niro's love interest Diane in The Score (2001, also starring Edward Norton and Marlon Brando), for which she earned the NAACP Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress. Secondly, Bassett starred as Ruby Delacroix in the made-for-TV movie Ruby's Bucket of Blood (2001). Again her performance brought her a nomination at the SAG Awards and the 2002 NAACP Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries.
In 2002, Bassett was highly praised for her work in CBS' biopic The Rosa Parks Story (2002, also served as executive producer). Bassett's dazzling performance awarded her with a Black Reel for Best Actress in 2003 as well as an Emmy nomination.
Coming back to the silver screen, Bassett won a leading lady role as unsuccessful actress Desiree Stokes Perry in John Sayles' Sunshine State (2002) before starring in Masked and Anonymous (2003, as Mistress) alongside Bob Dylan, Jessica Lange and John Goodman. She next starred with Andy Garcia in Lazarus Child (2004, as Elizabeth Chase) and with Bernie Mac in the baseball comedy Mr 3000 (2004, played Mo).
Recently, Bassett had a reoccurring role as CIA Director Hayden Chase and appeared in the thriller Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005, starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). She will also play Tanya Anderson in the upcoming Akeelah and the Bee (2005).