Over the past decade, we’ve seen a much-needed shift in the arts by way of diversity. While we could always strive to do better, there are small, incremental steps being taken to ensure the media reflects our intricately colorful reality. We at GGA understand the immense necessity to amplify black voices in the creative industry – specifically black women. To show our solidarity for the black community, Geek Girl Authority has comprised a list of 18 black female TV characters we love and support. Because Black Lives Matter, now and always.
Dr. Elvi Okoye – The Expanse
Dr. Elvi Okoye (Lyndie Greenwood) guest starred in Season 4 of Amazon Prime’s The Expanse. Elvi is a biologist who hails from Earth. When the Rocinante crew discover a horde of new colonies beyond the Ring, Elvi is one of the first to board an exploration vessel bound for New Terra. Besides being a certified genius, Elvi is immensely inquisitive. Despite all the terrors and inexplicable phenomena on New Terra, Elvi remained curious. Poised, even. She possesses a gentle spirit and a tenderhearted soul. Not to mention, she’s a bona fide hero. When the entire crew goes blind, Elvi finds a cure from…wait for it…cancer medication! Oh, and she falls through a black hole while simultaneously saving humanity from the formidable protomolecule. All hail Dr. Elvi Okoye! — Melody McCune
Zoë Washburne – Firefly
Zoë Washburne was played by Gina Torres on Firefly. On Zoë’s ship, Serenity, she is her captain’s right-hand. He trusts no one but her and you can’t blame him. She’s steady, smart, has the best dry sense of humor, and will go down fighting for her crew. Zoë is a veteran to a war where she was on the losing side. She carries that ache inside her but it doesn’t destroy her. In fact, it makes her a better human. Zoë is wonderfully intimidating but to her crew, she’s not just a leader…she’s family.
In addition, Zoë is a loving wife in her marriage to Serenity’s pilot, Hoban Washburne. She loves him fiercely and he is always at her tender mercy. Zoë’s most heartbreaking moment came in the film that followed the series, Serenity, where her husband is killed by Reavers. Instead of falling apart, her military training helps her compartmentalize his death in that horrible moment. She becomes focused and continues fighting to save her crew. When the battle ends, she mourns and she does so beautifully. Zoë is the type of person that everyone needs on their crew. — Audrey Kearns
Shirley Bennett – Community
Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown) enrolled at Greendale Community College and faced the unexpected: she befriended her Spanish study group. At face value, Shirley appeared to be the most “prudish” of the gang – she was a devout Christian with a strong moral compass. However, Shirley is a bastion of warmth. She’s got a mushy gushy center and she’s not afraid to show it. Shirley is multifaceted – she’s not the stereotypical “angry black woman” that Hollywood loves to perpetuate. She’s altogether soft and firm. Shirley incessantly leads with kindness, but if you mess with her friends, it’s over. She’ll stand up for what’s right. And she makes a mean Thanksgiving dinner. — Melody McCune
Joss Carter – Person of Interest
Taraji P. Henson‘s Detective Joss Carter on Person of Interest was so unique among the many cop characters we see in so many series. She was a single mom struggling to make a living but that didn’t stop her from catching the bad guys, even when the bad guys turned out to be other cops. And even though at first she was looking to lock up Finch and Reese, in the end she became their greatest ally and sacrificed herself to protect them. — Lorinda Donovan
Bill Potts – Doctor Who
Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) may be one of my favorite Doctor Who companions ever. I’m still disappointed that her tenure in the TARDIS was so short-lived. Bill made Doctor Who history by being the first LGBTQIA+ black woman on the series. LGBTQIA+ for the win! Bill has a vivacious energy about her. Her thirst for adventure perfectly complements the Doctor. She asks questions, sometimes to the Doctor’s chagrin, but she just has a desire for knowledge. Bill isn’t afraid to call out injustice when she sees it. She loves wholly and without inhibitions. In addition, she’s chock full of ambition and seizes the opportunity to travel with the Doctor. She’s got gusto. I like that in my companions. — Melody McCune
Astrid Farnsworth – Fringe
Now, I’ve always loved Agent Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) from Fringe. Well, I should say I loved Agents Astrid—parallel universes and doppelgängers—it’s a whole sci-fi “we have to save the world” thing. The relationship between “primary” timeline Astrid, who is neurotypical, and alternate timeline Astrid, who is atypical, is compelling. Watching them sort through their slightly different childhoods and traumas and learning to understand one another had me hooked. Because how do you understand someone who is you, but not you? — Melis Amber
Dana (Imani Hakim) is a bad*ss video game tester who morphs into a pseudo famous livestreamer on Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. Her character’s mere presence is something we don’t see in the video game industry – a black woman kicking all the butt and putting the crybaby trolls to bed with her gaming prowess. Dana doesn’t shy away from keeping the male ego in check. Despite working in a testosterone-fueled environment, Dana holds her own. She’s immensely motivated and isn’t fearful of reaching for the stars. She’s witty, kind, and just plain cool. Perhaps one of the coolest nerds to ever exist. — Melody McCune
Dr. Allison Blake – Eureka
Representation matters and not only is Dr. Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) from Eureka the head of a secret government project, she’s super smart and extremely independent. Allison holds multiple PhDs and is also a licensed medical doctor. She’s beyond qualified to live in the tiny scientific town of Eureka, which means she fits right in with the rest of the brainy townsfolk.
When the opportunity arises, she takes control of Global Dynamics and runs a pretty tight ship. She can handle the eccentric engineers and unexpected experimental malfunctions with a calm and cool mind. She does it all while being a single mother, too. Allison is able to balance life as a working mom without falling into any stereotype and doesn’t need a relationship to fill out her character arc. Her love and eventual marriage to Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) is merely a bonus that she chooses to allow into her already hectic life. — Talyna Morrison
Naomi Nagata – The Expanse
Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) is an engineer who hails from the Belt on The Expanse. She worked tooth and nail, rising up from the poverty-stricken Belt to snag a job in a highly competitive industry. Naomi is beyond intelligent – that should go without saying. Not to mention, she’s loyal to her people. She wants to see the Belt prosper. If you’ve succeeded in befriending her, Naomi will do whatever it takes to ensure your safety. She’ll die for her loved ones. Naomi is kind and willing to make sacrifices for the greater good. She may make mistakes along the way, but Naomi owns up to them. Naomi has a bit of a hardened exterior and generally doesn’t wear her vulnerability on her sleeve unless she’s comfortable. She’s someone you’d want on your side in a fight. Yam Seng, Beltalowda! — Melody McCune
Tara Thornton – True Blood
Tara Thornton from True Blood was played by Rutina Wesley. Tara was the type of character that everyone wished they could be in life. Confident, gorgeous, direct, funny, and vulnerable. She was more than the sassy best friend, although she always got Sookie together when it was needed – which was a lot. Her journey throughout the show from being telepathic, to her human death, to a vampire, before officially being killed off in a chaotic fashion, was memorable to say the least. — Dara Gholston
Maeve Millay – Westworld
“It doesn’t look like anything to me.” Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton) is a tough-as-nails brothel owner on Westworld. When she discovers that she’s actually AI and she once had a daughter, Maeve embarks on a journey to seek justice and freedom. Maeve is very much no-nonsense. She doesn’t suffer fools. In addition, Maeve is straightforward and isn’t one to mince words. She helps lead the AI uprising in the park and effectively puts the humans in their place. Maeve possesses charm and oozes charisma. She could talk her way out of a murder sentence. In short, if Maeve threatens to take over humanity, I’ll be the first in line to worship my newly appointed Robot Queen. — Melody McCune
Indra – The 100
Indra kom Trikru is a warrior, leader, and friend played by the incomparable Adina Porter. Indra’s arc over 6 seasons is a solid one and it’s still evolving in The 100’s currently airing seventh season. When we first met her in Season 2, she was proud, fierce, and blindly loyal to her commander. As her story arc evolved in subsequent seasons, she remained as fierce and proud as ever but she began to only give her loyalty where it was earned. Every day of her life, she protects those she cares for, and craves no reward.
Now, Indra is also a mother figure to the lost Skaikru girl, Octavia. She molded Octavia into a warrior and when Octavia went too far, Indra stepped in, even though it pained her. Indra also has her own daughter Gaia and although Gaia refused to take the same path as her mother, Indra lost no love for her. Indra’s brain is always analyzing. She’ll question your motives or let you know if she thinks you’re going down the wrong path. In the end, she’ll respect your wishes, even if your wish is to be floated out of an airlock so you can die to save the rest of Wonkru. To put it simply, Indra is the “Ride or Die” you need. — Audrey Kearns
Simone Garnett – The Good Place
Simone Garnett (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) is one smart cookie on The Good Place. She was a Professor of Neuroscience, for crying out loud! That smacks of genius. Besides her ginormous brain, Simone is outspoken. When debating, she’ll bring you oodles of intricate evidence to the table. She’s not afraid to wield her intellect. Of course, neuroscience, much like anything science-related, is a male-dominated field. Simone, presumably, clawed her way to the top by the merits of her intelligence. Not daddy’s money. In addition, Simone is kindhearted and loyal to her loved ones. She’ll pick your brain all the live long day. — Melody McCune
Kendra Young – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Kendra Young from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was played by the never aging Bianca Lawson. Kendra was a Slayer that was activated after (spoiler alert) Buffy’s temporary death. Originally from Jamaica, she didn’t trust the whole Scooby gang at first but opened up her mind to their genuine, kind nature and stood with them when they fought Spike and Drusilla (before Spike was good). Even though she only lasted three whole episodes her resilience, dedication, and ultimate death left a lasting impact on the way Buffy approached her Slayer duties and I appreciated that. — Dara Gholston
Rosalind Walker – The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Rosalind “Roz” Walker (Jaz Sinclair) is a powerful seer hailing from Greendale in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She’s empowered, brash, and never shies away from speaking her mind. Roz wears her heart on her sleeve. When her friend comes out as transgender, she accepts him with open arms. In fact, she encourages him and incessantly supports his transition. Roz is a “Ride or Die” kind of gal. Her moral compass is like no other and she’ll never sit on the sidelines when injustice prevails. Roz is also intelligent and inquisitive. She’s the whole package! — Melody McCune
Elida – Vagrant Queen
Elida (Adriyan Rae) is a queen without a throne in Vagrant Queen. After her mother was murdered and her kingdom usurped, Elida spent the majority of her adolescence on the run. Elida is a barrier-breaker in her own right – she’s on the first science fiction series to feature an LGBTQIA+ black woman as its lead. Huzzah! Elida lives her truth and doesn’t pull punches. Literally. She’s an exceptionally skilled fighter. In addition, Elida is always armed with a witty quip and some cheese-tastic jokes. Her love for her friends is unadulterated and immovable. She will gladly fall on her sword to protect those she loves. Not only that, but Elida knows a thing or two about survival. If Elida and I were stuck on a desolate island with limited resources, I’d be fine with it. We’d survive! — Melody McCune
Michonne – The Walking Dead
Michonne (Danai Gurira) is one bad*ss katana-wielding warrior on The Walking Dead. She can survive a zombie apocalypse, people! Michonne embodies stoicism. She’s the strong and silent type. That’s par for the course when you’re attempting to thrive solo in an apocalyptic wasteland. However, beneath the layers, you’ll find a sweet and gooey center. She’s extremely loyal to her loved ones and will literally beat back the zombie horde for them. Michonne’s tenderhearted, gentle inner spirit doesn’t go unnoticed by those who love her. I’m gonna stick with her when the undead start walking. — Melody McCune
Kate – Wynonna Earp
Who says vampires are no longer en vogue? Kate (Chantel Riley) plays a fashionable vampire on Wynonna Earp. Prior to her turning, she worked as a psychic, and she wasn’t one of those phony types you saw on TV in the ’80s. She was the real deal in that aspect. Kate has the effervescent charm one would expect from a vampire. She could charm her way out of a paper bag. She’s a pitch-perfect physical warrior. She’s immensely cunning and clever. Kate will wipe the floor with you when it comes to mind games. Oh, and she’ll out-dress you in the fashion department. Every time. — Melody McCune
If you’re looking for more ways to get involved and support Black Lives Matter, check out their website, here.
Who are your favorite black female TV characters? Sound off in the comments below!
This article was originally published 6/15/20