TVAndMovies

23 Women In Television You Need To Be Watching

Black girl magic is real on television, and it's not just Shonda.

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1. Taraji P. Henson

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This woman is Cookie Lyons on Empire. That definitely puts her in the royal family of women ruling over television. Might even make her the reigning monarch in a leopard fedora. Before Empire you might have seen her being all sorts of beloved on Person Of Interest.

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2. Gabrielle Union

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Bow the fuck down. See: Being Mary Jane, on which she plays the titular character and serves as an executive producer. This is what we call running the game.

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3. Debbie Allen

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She's onscreen as queen doctor Catherine Avery on Grey's Anatomy, but this lady's been KILLING IT offscreen as well. Among the shows she's directed: Grey's (of course), but also Jane the Virgin, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Empire, Survivor's Remorse, Everybody Hates Chris, Girlfriends, That's So Raven, and what feels like a billion more going back to the '80s and the Fame TV show. Debbie's been everything for a long time.

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4. Lena Waithe

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Lena made her onscreen debut in The Comeback in 2014 and found a breakout role in 2015 as Denise on Master of None. But she's also been around behind the scenes, with writing credits on Bones, Hello Cupid, How to Rock, and more. Now we're all essentially waiting with bated breath to see what she'll do next.

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5. Gabourey Sidibe

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She's a fucking Oscar nominee, and she's stolen our hearts again and again. There's Becky on Empire, of course — and that fantastic love scene. And let's not forget American Horror Story and The Big C before it. Never leave us, Gaby.

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7. Sanaa Hamri

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She's an effing executive producer on Empire. Her TV directing credits include episodes of Shameless, Rectify, Elementary, Glee, and 90210. But really: This is the lady who acts as music liaison on Empire. She owns the world.

Learn more here.

8. Viola Davis

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I mean. Viola brought the Emmys to its knees in 2015 when she won for How to Get Away With Murder and gave a speech that is still reverberating through our hearts and minds. She's showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.

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9. Tracee Ellis Ross

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Tracee's been in our TV lives since Girlfriends premiered in 2000, and thank god for that. She currently radiates out into the universe as Rainbow on Black-ish.

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10. Jessica Williams

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Jessica, oh Jessica. Whether you stay on The Daily Show for 10 more years or strike out to do something new and unknown, just know you have our full attention for as long as you may want it.

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11. Ava DuVernay

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Everyone knows Ava in the film world. But this lady's ALSO making sure we never forget her name in the TV universe, either. She directed that "Vermont Is For Lovers, Too" episode of Scandal, and she's got the series Queen Sugar cooking with OPRAH. Super casual. You know, just Oprah.

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12. Brandy Norwood

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Well, she's BRANDY, for one. And you can currently catch her on Zoe Ever After. Previously: The Game, Moesha, Drop Dead Diva, 90210, One on One, Thea. Cinderella also totally counts, because it falls into the category of TV movie.

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13. Kerry Washington

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She's Olivia Pope. She's handling it. Scandal remains a juggernaut, and Kerry remains the star at its center. Look no further than the average Twitter feed, which she dominates every Thursday she graces our televisions with her presence.

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14. Sherri Saum

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Look, Lena on The Fosters is a glorious presence. This woman should be on all your lists. See also: Gossip Girl, In Treatment, Rescue Me, How to Get Away With Murder, and Revenge.

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16. Regina King

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Well, there was that Emmy in 2015 for American Crime. There was that run on The Leftovers. There's also the fact that she's directed a bunch of episodes of Being Mary Jane and Scandal. She's got this.

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17. Sasheer Zamata

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One of the most charming presences on Saturday Night Live. See also: some memorable appearances on Inside Amy Schumer. This girl's gonna slay us for decades to come, just you watch.

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18. Teyonah Parris

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She was Dawn on Mad Men. She's Missy on Survivor's Remorse. They're two markedly different characters on two markedly different shows, but get to know Teyonah as a performer however you can — she's a goddamn treasure.

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19. Courtney Kemp Agboh

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She created Power, for one. Before that you probably saw her work on The Good Wife, Hawaii Five-0, Happy Town, and Beauty and the Beast. FYI: Her big break into TV came via an article she wrote about interracial dating.

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20. Leslie Jones

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Straight killing it on SNL. No, really; she's the latest in a long line of that show's breakout stars. And, oh, she's about to be a motherfucking Ghostbuster. It's really best to be paying attention to her right now. She's about to be a household name.

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21. Issa Rae

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Her HBO show Insecure has yet to premiere, but she's been dominating the web series game for years with The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and First. There's literally no way we're not watching her take over television.

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22. Shonda Rhimes

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Obviously. She's Shonda Rhimes. ABC was essentially like "you kick so much ass for us, here's the most coveted night on television. It's yours. Do what you want with it." And she did. All those people on this list who've appeared on or directed Grey's, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder? They've reported to her at some point or another. She's reigning queen. She's a living icon. Shondaland ain't no joke. We're all living in it.

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23. Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah owns and always has owned television. Her reign is eternal. There are technical dates and histories regarding when it started, but we all know the reality: It has always been so. And it will always be. She has her own channel. It's literally called OWN. She is television's closest thing to a deity, in a wonderful human form (allegedly).

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~Tell us more of your faves in the comments. And long live these queens.~