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Angela Evelyn Bassett (born August 16, 1958) is an Americanmarker actress. She has become well-known for her biographical film roles portraying real life women in African American culture, perhaps most prominently as singer Tina Turner in the motion picture What's Love Got to Do with It, as well as her portrayal of Betty Shabazz in the films Malcolm X and Panther, Rosa Parks in the The Rosa Parks Story, Michael Jackson's mother Katherine in the miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream and Christopher (The Notorious B.I.G.) Wallace's Mother Voletta Wallace in the Biopic Notorious.

Early life

Bassett was born in Harlemmarker and relocated to St. Petersburg, Floridamarker as a child. She and her sister D'nette were raised by their social worker/civil servant mother, Betty. As her interest in entertainment developed, she and her sister would often put on shows, reading poems or performing popular music for their family. At Boca Ciega High School, Bassett was a member of the debate team, student government, drama club, choir, and was a cheerleader.

Bassett attended Yale Universitymarker and received her B.A. degree in African-American studies in 1980. In 1983, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama. At Yale, Bassett met her future husband Courtney B. Vance, a 1986 graduate of the drama school. After graduation, Bassett worked as a receptionist for a beauty salon and as a photo researcher.

Bassett soon looked for acting work in the New York theater. One of her first New York performances came in 1985 when she appeared in J. E. Franklin's Black Girl at Second Stage Theatre. She appeared in two August Wilson plays at the Yale Repertory Theatremarker under the direction of her long-time instructor Lloyd Richards. The Wilson plays featuring Bassett were Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1984) and Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1986). In 2000 she turned down the leading role in Monsters Ball which was later given to Halle Berry due to it's sexual content. In 2006, she had the opportunity to work on the Wilson canon again, starring in Fences alongside longtime collaborator Laurence Fishburne at the Pasadena Playhousemarker in California.

Television and film career

In 1985, Bassett made her first television appearance as a prostitute in the TV movie Doubletake (1985). However, she made her official film debut as a news reporter in F/X (1986). Bassett moved to Los Angelesmarker and gained recognition in the films Boyz n the Hood (1991) and Malcolm X (1992). For her portrayal of Betty Shabazz, she earned an Image Award.

In 1992 Bassett played Katherine Jackson (Michael Jackson's mother) in the Mini Series The Jacksons: An American Dream.Later in 1992, Bassett won the role of Tina Turner in the feature film What's Love Got to Do with It (1993). Bassett earned a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Turner. She was the first African-American to win the Best Actress Golden Globe for a musical or comedy.

Bassett starred in three movies in 1995 that were released with varied reactions from critics; Vampire in Brooklyn, Strange Days, and Waiting to Exhale (where she worked with author Terry McMillan). In Strange Days, Bassett plays Lornette "Mace" Mason, a chauffeur and bodyguard. Bernadine Harris, Bassett's character in Waiting to Exhale, was betrayed by her husband and in revenge she set fire to his entire wardrobe and vehicle, then sold what was left for one dollar.

In 1998, Bassett starred in the film How Stella Got Her Groove Back, once again collaborating with McMillan. She played Stella, a 40-year-old American professional woman who falls in love with a 20-year-old Jamaican man.

Bassett joined the regular cast of the medical drama series ER for the show's final season. She portrayed Dr. Catherine Banfield, an exacting Chief of the ER who was also working to recover from the death of a son and to bring another child into her family. Bassett's husband Courtney Vance also played her television husband on ER as Russell Banfield.

She will also lend her voice on an upcoming episode of The Simpsons.

Personal life

Bassett is a private person, often choosing not to discuss her personal life with the public. She attends LA's West Angeles Church of God in Christ along with fellow actor Denzel Washington. Bassett told the Los Angeles Times: "Loving God is like my being black. I just am. [No one says] 'You know what? I'm gonna be blacker today!' It's my culture. It's not something I put on or take off or show more. You just communicate that in the way you live your life."

Bassett married actor Courtney B. Vance in 1997. In the summer of 2005, they starred together in a production of the play His Girl Friday at the Guthrie Theatermarker in Minneapolismarker, Minnesotamarker. The couple's children, son Slater Josiah and daughter Bronwyn Golden, were born on January 27, 2006.

Bassett is an avid supporter of programs for the Arts, especially for youth. She annually attends events for children with diabetes and those in foster homes. She is an active Ambassador of UNICEF for the United States. Bassett is a big supporter of the Royal Theater Boys & Girls Club in her hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. The Club is one of the first all performing arts Boys & Girls Clubs in the country.

Bassett is represented by the Executive Speakers Bureau of Memphismarker, Tennesseemarker, and receives over $50,000 per appearance.


Year Film Role Other notes
1986 F/X TV Reporter
1990 Kindergarten Cop Stewardess
1991 Critters 4 Fran Released Straight-to-Video
Boyz n the Hood Reva Devereaux
City of Hope Reesha
1992 Passion Fish Dawn/Rhonda
Innocent Blood U.S. Attorney Sinclair
Malcolm X Betty Shabazz
1992 The Jacksons: An American Dream Katherine Jackson
1993 What's Love Got to Do with It Anna Mae Bullock/Tina Turner Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress
1995 Vampire in Brooklyn Det. Rita Veder
Panther Betty Shabazz
Strange Days Lornette 'Mace' Mason
Waiting to Exhale Bernadine 'Bernie' Harris
1997 Contact Rachel Constantine
1998 How Stella Got Her Groove Back Stella
1999 Our Friend, Martin Miles' Mom Voice Role
Released Straight-to-Video
Music of the Heart Principal Janet Williams
2000 Supernova Dr. Kaela Evers
Whispers: An Elephant's Tale Groove Voice Role
Boesman and Lena Lena
2001 The Score Diane
2002 Sunshine State Desiree Stokes Perry
2003 Masked and Anonymous Mistress
2004 The Lazarus Child Dr. Elizabeth Chase
Mr. 3000 Maureen 'Mo' Simmons
2005 Mr. & Mrs. Smith Mr. Smith's Boss Uncredited Voice Role
2006 Akeelah and the Bee Tanya Anderson
2007 Meet the Robinsons Mildred Voice Role
2008 Gospel Hill Sarah Malcolm
Of Boys and Men Rieta Cole
Meet the Browns Brenda Brown
Nothing But the Truth Bonnie Benjamin
2009 Notorious Voletta Wallace Supporting Role
The Princess and the Frog Eudora
Year Title Role Notes
1985 Doubletake Prostitute at Headquarters CBS TV-Movie
Spenser: For Hire Joe's Daughter Episode: The Choice
1985, 1988 The Cosby Show Mrs. Mitchell
Episode: Mr. Quiet
Episode: Bookworm
1986 Liberty Linda Thornton NBC TV-Movie
1987 Ryan's Hope Leonie Peach
1989 A Man Called Hawk Bailey Webster Episode: The Master's Mirror
Episode: Never My Love
Tour of Duty Lt. Camilla Patterson Episode: Hard Stripe
Episode: The Volunteer
227 Amy Burnett Episode: A Pampered Tale
Thirtysomething Kate Harriton Episode: Legacy
1990 Family of Spies Bev Andress CBS TV-Movie
Alien Nation Renee Longstreet Episode: Eyewitness News
Challenger Cheryl McNair ABC TV-Movie
Equal Justice Janet Fields Episode: Goodbye, Judge Green
In the Best Interest of the Child Lori CBS TV-Movie
Perry Mason: In the Case of the Silenced Singer Carla Peters NBC TV-Movie
1991 Line of Fire: The Morris Dees Story Pat NBC TV-Movie
The Flash Linda Lake Episode: Beat the Clock
Fire: Trapped on the 37th Floor Allison ABC TV-Movie
Stat Dr. Willie Burns Episode: Ladyfinger
The Heroes of Desert Storm Lt. Phoebe Jeter ABC TV-Movie
Locked Up: A Mother's Rage Willie TV-Movie
One Special Victory Lois NBC TV-Movie
1992 Nightmare Cafe Evelyn Episode: Sanctuary for a Child
The Jacksons: An American Dream Katherine Jackson ABC Miniseries
1995 Get Smart Uncredited Role
Runway Model
Episode: Pilot
2001 Ruby's Bucket of Blood Ruby Delacroix Showtime TV-Movie
2002 The Rosa Parks Story Rosa Louise McCauley Parks CBS TV-Movie
2003 Freedom: A History of Us Sheyann Webb
Melba Pattillo
PBS Miniseries
Episode: Marching to Freedom Land
Episode: Let Freedom Ring

2005 Alias CIA Director Hayden Chase Episode: Authorized Personnel Only
Episode: The Index
Episode: The Descent
Episode: Search And Rescue

2006 Time Bomb Jill Greco CBS TV-Movie
2008-2009 ER Dr. Cate Banfield

Awards and nominations

* 1994, Best Actress in a Leading Role for What's Love Got to Do with It, Nominated

* 2007, Best Actress for Akeelah and the Bee, Winner

* 2006, Best Supporting Actress for Akeelah and the Bee, Winner

* 2007, Best Supporting Actress for Akeelah and the Bee, Nominated
* 2005, Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy for Mr. 3000, Nominated
* 2002, Best Actress in a Network/Cable Film for The Rosa Parks Story, Winner
* 2002, Best Actress for Sunshine State, Winner
* 2001, Best Actress for Boseman and Lena, Nominated
* 2000, Best Supporting for Music of the Heart, Nominated

* 2003, Outstanding Children's Series (Our America), Nominated
* 1996, Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series (Storytime), Nominated

* 2002, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini-Series/Television Movie (The Rosa Parks Story), Nominated

* 1993, Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for What's Love Got to Do With It, Winner

* 2007, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Akeelah and the Bee), Nominated
* 2005, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Mr. 3000), Nominated
* 2003, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Sunshine State) Winner
* 2003, Outstanding Actress in a Mini-Series/Television Movie (The Rosa Parks Story), Winner
*Also, on March 20th 2008, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker, located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard.


  1. Angela Bassett Biography (1958-)
  2. As Tina Turner, Wig to High Heels - New York Times
  3. Angela Bassett Executive Speaker's Bureau

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