Cinema sizzlers, on-screen stunners, and bubbling Black actresses are all sobriquets that can be used to describe the entertainment industry’s melanin magic makers. In Tinseltown where racial inequity and gender bias are prevalent, there’s a bevy of Black women lighting up screens in spite of the odds being stacked against them.
In 2020, T Magazine gathered Mary J. Blige, Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, Kimberly Elise, Halle Berry, Lynn Whitfield, and Angela Bassett, and they discussed exactly that; how they have “to toil through the intricacies of a doubly marginalized existence — being black and being a woman.”
Despite the existence of Black actresses, Black directors, Black writers, Black showrunners, and Black studio heads, the ladies agreed that Hollywood hasn’t fully grasped the concept of representation and many of them feel they’re used as part of a “diversity quota.”
“What I see Hollywood do is feature one or two of us, and they’ll ignore the rest of us like we don’t exist,” Elise, star of The Diary of a Mad Black Woman, explained to T Magazine. “It gives the illusion that we’re moving forward, but it’s really disempowering the collective.”
As Women’s History Month continues, BOSSIP is once again taking a moment to shine a spotlight on our sistas who excel at the art of storytelling—“diversity quota” be damned.
This year, the ladies we selected are poised to continue their winning streaks with their wit, writing, acting credits, and undeniable star quality. Last year, we highlighted luminaries like Dominique Fishback, Quinta Brunson, Teyonnah Parris, and Storm Reid. This year, we’re adding six more ladies to our Bubbling Black Actresses list.
In no particular order, here’s BOSSIP’s Bubbling Black Actresses of 2022.
Coco Jones Effortlessly Transitions From Disney Channel To A Modern Reimagining Of Hilary Banks
Coco Jones rose to fame starring in the Disney Channel film Let It Shine in 2012 after being featured on Radio Disney’s “Next Big Thing” the year prior. After previously being signed with Hollywood Records, she went on to release independent singles and EPs beginning in 2014.
Since her time on the Disney Channel, Jones has managed to pull off what so many young stars can’t; a flawless transition. After more recent roles in 2020’s Vampires vs. the Bronx and the series Five Points, the Columbia, South Carolina native moved onto the job that’s putting her on everyone’s radars, Bel-Air.
Bel-Air sees a 24-year-old Jones portray a different side than her child star past, reimagining the iconic role of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s beloved Hilary Banks. Her version of the character is equally as chic as her predecessor, but she puts her own spin on things by pushing the limits of her career and self-expression, bringing new life to a role that so many thought was futile.
Following her breakout performance on Bel-Air, fans want to see more of Jones, calling for the beauty to portray Princess Tiana in a live-action adaptation of The Princess and the Frog. Luckily, that role is something she would be more than happy to take.
“Oh I would love that,” she said during a recent appearance on The Wayne Ayers podcast. “I mean, Disney has been such a huge part of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s made me who I am. I’m always here for the representation…If I could have the honor of doing that recreation, I would do it in a heartbeat.”
It’s safe to say this is just the beginning for Coco Jones.
Chanté Adams Is Shining And Thriving & It’s Perfect Timing
Chanté Adams is making an indelible mark in Hollywood and all the flowers she’s receiving in 2022 are well warranted. The A Journal For Jordan actress’ year is already off to a stellar start, and on Thursday, she’ll be honored as one of ESSENCE’s 2022 Black Women In Hollywood something she personally told BOSSIP she’s “over the moon about.”
Adams is being honored for being part of the “The Black Cinematic Universe” and for helping diverse Black stories to be told. With that, she recently posed for one of the magazine’s four covered covers alongside fellow honorees; Oscar-nominated actress Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard), actress/comedian/creator Quinta Brunson (Abbott Elementary), and actress/producer/director Nia Long (You People).
Being featured alongside Nia is especially serendipitous considering that the actress personally helped Adams at the start of her career, at one point giving Adams access to her car.
“Nia saw this young Black woman who had just graduated college and knew nothing about being in front of a camera, and she immediately, with no hesitation, took me under her wing—offering advice on navigating representation, giving me her car for two weeks when I was visiting L.A. and needed to take meetings and I couldn’t afford a rental,” Adams gushed to ESSENCE.
“But the most meaningful thing she did was just to make herself available, and to stand up for me when I was too scared to stand up for myself…
And while she’s absolutely living her dream, Adams shared that she doesn’t have a dream role and instead wants to focus on conquering challenges.
“I don’t have a dream role currently,” Adams recently told BOSSIP. “There are genres and different complexities within characters I’d love to explore but no specific role that’s calling to me at the moment. Right now I just want roles that challenge me and allow me to do something I haven’t done yet.”
The actress who’s starring in Prime Video’s reimaging of “A League Of Their Own” later this year also graciously leaned into BOSSIP’s love of alliteration and gave us three words to describe her career thus far.
“Exhilarating, demanding, and divinely-aligned—Issa compound word,” said the actress.
It is indeed, Chanté Adams.
Best wishes to a woman who’s not only a Bubbling Black Actress but one of Hollywood’s brightest lights.
‘Harlem’ Honey Shoniqua Shandai Keeps Us Laughing & Keeps Us Watching
Fans didn’t know what to expect of Prime Video comedy Harlem when it first hit the streaming services in 2021, except for what mostly drew attention to the series; actress Meagan Good’s return to television. What curious viewers quickly discovered however was a raw gem among the quartet of leading ladies by the name of Shoniqua Shandai.
In the series, she stars as a rambunctious aspiring singer and actress, Angie, who can’t seem to stay off of her friend’s Uber account. The bubbly comical character isn’t too far off from her Shandai’s roots. A trained actress and singer born in New York and raised in Richmond, Virginia, the 32-year-old graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, with a certificate in both the music and acting aspects of performing.
She eventually jetted to LA with her mother to pursue her dream further and the rest is history. The actress had several acting credits, including voicing Sunstone for the Cartoon Network series “Steven Universe” and now she’s giving a voice to Angie.
For Harlem, Shandai plays up Angie’s determination and energetic style charmingly and it’s because the character personally hits home for her.
“I saw myself. I saw my aunties. I saw Jenifer Lewis. I saw all these women in this one person,” Shandai told ESSENCE about reading Angie’s lines and falling in love. “She’s been a minor character in other stories, just seen as a booster, a quick laugh or a joke. The woman that the world has made into a permanent stereotype, a side character, really gets to take the lead and tell her own story. I said, ‘I’m about that.’
With the way Shandai seamlessly blends humor with fabulousness on screen, we know this is just the beginning of her Hollywood journey.
Janelle James Is An Undeniable Bubbling Black Actress On ‘Abbot Elementary’
There’s no one on TV funnier than Janelle James who plays hilariously incompetent Principal Ava Coleman on hit ABC sitcom Abbott Elementary and yes, it’s Ava’s world” and we’re just “living in it.”
— Abbott Elementary (@AbbottElemABC) March 5, 2022
Naturally hilarious with brilliant comedic timing, James continues to earn straight A’s as everyone’s favorite administrator who does everything but her actual job on the cant-miss show. For James, she knew early on that Abbott Elementary was a hit. Created, written, and starring Quinta Brunson, the Emmy-worthy series centers around a kooky group of dedicated teachers who find themselves thrown together in an underserved Philadelphia public school where they’re determined to help their students succeed in life.
“[When] I read the script, I was like, “Oh, this s— is hilarious,” she said in an interview with EW. “I’m really pessimistic, I’m not an optimistic person, but I’ve never been more optimistic about, or sure of any other project. [Pause] That’s not true. I feel like I have good taste [Laughs].
But I don’t try for things that I think are bad. So I knew it was a good show, whether I booked it or not. I wanted to be involved so much because it was so funny — one of the best pilots I have, maybe, ever read.
So I’m not surprised. I’m grateful that ABC also saw it and they seem to be behind us all the way because that’s really what makes a show. We make a good show, and then the network has to believe in you and let people know about it. And they seem to be doing that, so that’s great.”
— AC 😷 (@ACinPhilly) January 5, 2022
— drip drip melanin (@d0nnyb0ii) January 19, 2022
In 2020, Variety named James, a Brooklyn-native, one of 10 Comics to Watch to which she replied:
“I’m a woman, when else do I get a room full of people to listen to me? I get to do that all the time and charge people money for it. It’s like I’m a motivational speaker without all the bullshit. Without all the cheerfulness.”
She’s also starred in her own Netflix comedy special, appeared on Showtime’s Black Monday, and voiced a character on Apple TV’s Central Park while touring with Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, and David Cross.
With Abbott Elementary just getting started and her star steadily rising, we’re excited to see what’s next for the emerging comedy Queen.
But, for now, we’ll settle for Ava Coleman’s shenanigans and James’ hilarious podcast ‘You In Danger Gurl‘ that was named one of Spotify’s top comedy podcasts of 2020.
China Anne McClain’s Multi-Hyphenate Reign Won’t Let Up
China Anne McClain is one of the brightest young up-and-coming stars in Hollywood. The multi-hyphenate singer-actress is not only 1/3 of the pop group Thriii with her sisters Sierra and Lauryn but she also plays the fan-favorite character Jazmine Payne on Tyler Perry’s hit TV show House of Payne.
The ladies recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of their Disney hit “Calling All The Monsters” by releasing an updated music video showcasing their smash and continued chemistry as a talented trio. Here’s what they told Billboard about the tentpole moment:
“Given how much ‘Calling All The Monsters’ fans have supported the song without fail since its release, we had to do something special as a gift to them for the 10th anniversary!”
McClain also won a lot of fans over with her role as Jennifer “Lightning” Pierce in the CW series Black Lightning for three seasons before making an unexpected departure from the show following a reduced role in the series’ final season 4.
As someone who has been performing since she was the tender age of 7, China’s maturity became evident when she cited not only her desire to tell new stories but also the death of a friend and Descendants co-star Cameron Boyce in 2019. McClain told Looper that the tragedy made her rethink the importance that she put on Hollywood validation.
“I just think [Cameron’s death] made me step back, and now I don’t live for those things anymore. I don’t live for, ‘Let me make sure I accomplish this and let me work, work, work, work.'”
China says the decision to take back control of her life and career came via a “divine revelation” from God.
“It was time for me to go and focus on some of these other projects that have been in my back pocket for a long time, but I’ve always focused on other people’s projects first — things that I was cast in, but things that didn’t belong to me.”
In addition to cultivating projects that she finds more fulfilling both personally and professionally, China started a YouTube channel with her sisters Lauryn and Sierra where they sing, post all sorts of fun challenges, do regular Q&A with their fans.
China’s one to watch and her multi-hyphenate reign will continue to bubble throughout all of 2022.
‘Sto·ry·tell·HER’ Danielle Moné Truitt Shines As Sergeant Ayanna Bell
Danielle Moné Truitt is an American actress, singer, and dancer from Sacramento, California and she’s an undeniable screen sizzler. Sacramento is where her love of acting began as she studied theater and dance at Sacramento State University before heading to sunny Los Angeles to live out her dream of having a career in television and film.
She got her start in theater but this luminary would go on to take the lead role as Rebecca Knight in John Singleton’s Drama series Rebel on BET. She’s since been nominated for two Ovation Awards, one for her performance as the lead actress in The Mountain Top and the second for her role in DREAMGIRLS. She would go on to receive an NAACP Theatre Award for The Mountaintop and a permanent place in our eyes as a Bubbling Black Actress. Not only that, but she’s a woman of faith who rolls up her sleeves and digs in her heels in hopes of creating change.
“If something is for you, God will give it to you…no one can take it away,” Truitt previously told Chicago Now. “Nothing of any value will come easy. Work hard and become involved. Try to be of service to other people. My family has a church ministry where we feed the homeless and the community. We have prayed with police that are hurting and need prayer.”
Truitt made history when she joined Academy Award Nominated animation in The Princess and the Frog where she served as the video reference for Princess Tiana. She has made appearances on Snowfall, Chicago Med, and Deputy and also started” BE, ETERNAL: The Thriving Artist Series” that serves the artistic community by providing emotional and spiritual support, something that’s dear to her heart.
“Be eternal and become your best self,” the actress also added too Chicago Now. We have a great opportunity to be strong healthy people. I want to be the Michelle Obama of the inner-city and pour greatness into people! I want to inspire people to live differently!”
The inspiring actress is currently co-starring on NBC’s new series Law and Order: Organized Crime as Sergeant Ayanna Bell. This role is reoccurring and seems to be one she will continue long into the future.
Danielle Moné Truitt considers herself a “Sto·ry·tell·HER” and we’re blessed to be able to sit back and watch her work.