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15 Black Girls We Loved Watching On TV In The '90s

Ooo in a '90s kind of world, we're glad we had our girls.

The ’90s are often regarded as the golden era for black girls on television.

For the first time, you could find one on almost every network channel. The best part? They weren't all the same. We had the girl next door and the uppity girl who lives in the mansion you could never afford; the girl who got straight A's and the girl who was boy crazy. They were lawyers, business owners, marketing executives, art dealers, writers, and teachers. They were light- and dark-skinned. They felt like us. It was a decade in representation that we'll never forget, the first and only of its kind for a long time. In fact, television is just starting to get back to that level of black girl magic.

This Black History Month the BuzzFeed staff wanted to reflect on the gorgeous group of black women on TV that made us laugh, cry, and feel seen during that era.

1. Whitley Gilbert from A Different World


Without Whitney Gilbert there would be no Bad and Boujee — she pioneered the archetype. She was the Southern belle who owned her diamonds and blackness with pride. Sure she was a snob, but seeing a black woman never settle for less whether it was labels or men was important and necessary. She taught us to hold our heads high, so it was also great to see her character grow into a mentor on the show as a hall director and teacher. Oh, and her and Dwayne champing relationship goals goes without saying. —Sylvia Obell

2. Moesha from Moesha


She was one of the first black girl characters, of my generation at least, who had actually made it big and crossed over as a brown-skinned girl who wore braids. She looked like so many black girls who weren't represented on TV and she was the actual star; like, the name of the show was her name. It may seem standard for the ’90s, but that was HUGE for black TV, and we haven't really seen that kind of representation since. —Essence Gant

3. Maxine Shaw from Living Single


She always walked like her feet hurt but at the same time, she wanted to show off her booty. Also, she was upfront about trying to get hers: professionally, sexually, and "food-ally." LOL. —Nicole Perkins

4. Lisa Turtle from Saved by the Bell


At a time when I was pretty much the only black girl in the whole damn school, let alone my class, Lisa Turtle on Saved by the Bell saved my life. She was a tiny nod to my existence. And not only was Lisa a woman of color with curly hair that looked like mine, but she was also smart, fashionable, well-spoken, and from a wealthy family. She was everything I was and a few things I aspired to be too. —Elizabeth Pears

5. Suzie Carmichael from Rugrats


I always loved loved Suzie Carmichael and her mom, Lucy, from Rugrats. I feel like Susie was such an adorable, fun character (an answer, maybe, to Angelica's rude lil' ass), and her mom, Lucy, was a super-inspiring and hardworking. Lucy was a Harvard-educated doctor raising four children with her husband, Randy. I also think Lucy was Rugrats' black answer to the powerful, educated, and driven Charlotte Pickles. It was cool to see two women, both dominating in their respective careers and lives, from different backgrounds (and on a cartoon, no less). —Billy Lorusso

6. Tia and Tamera from Sister, Sister


Tia and Tamerra gave us the best of both worlds in identically adorable packages. One was an ambitious, straight-A student who pushed herself too hard. And the other was a lazy, fun, social butterfly who made us laugh at our own imperfections. They balanced each other out and did the important work of showing the world that we're all not the same. —Sylvia Obell

7. Laura Winslow from Family Matters


Laura was just an all-around '90s TV force. She was smart as hell, gorgeous, witty, mad stylish, and she took no mess from anyone. I also adored the message she was able to share when it came to her relationship with Steve. Their relationship was rocky for several seasons, with her continually knocking Steve and his attempts to express his feelings for her. But as their relationship evolved in the show’s final seasons, it was powerful to see her build an unshakable bond with him as a friend — and his eventual fiancée. She bravely opened her heart to unexpected love. And in the process, she discovered a true life partner in Steve, willingly accepting, respecting, and loving him for his authentic self. —Treye Green

8. Denise Huxtable from The Cosby Show


Denise was an effortlessly cool girl — the very calm cadence in which she spoke, her thrift shop swag, her ever-changing hair. She was naturally fly and it was something we just had to admire because we definitely couldn't imitate it. —E.G.

9. Hillary Banks from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air


I loved Hilary banks on Fresh Prince. Her outfits alone were amazing. But she was also just a deeply funny/shallow/vain character. She had excellent one-liners. —Erin La Rosa

10. Angela from Boy Meets World

Abc Photo Archives / Getty Images

I love Angela because she was the perfect girlfriend for Shawn — smart, mature, and supportive. She was the most relatable, real person on the show, and was such a good foil for Cory and Topanga's shenanigans. There were so few people of color on Boy Meets World, and I appreciated that she was a fully-realized, multidimensional character. —Terri Pous

11. Kim Parker from Moesha and The Parkers


So, yes, the show was called Moesha but Countess Vaughn as Kim Parker held her own against a major star like Brandy. Kim was a powerful little pocket rocket who was confident and knew what she wanted (namely, Hakeem), had great one-liners, and was unapologetically curvy, which I don't think we saw enough of on TV, even though she was subjected to quite a bit of fat-shaming. It was no surprise to me when her character was offered her own spin-off show, The Parkers. —E.P.

12. Nina from Cousin Skeeter


She was was intelligent, fun, deep, and protective of her friends. I also very much enjoyed seeing a dark-skinned teenage girl represented. I felt like I saw myself. Additionally, Nina was one of the only girls to really star the show and that made made her interactions meaningful to me personally as a girl who grew up with older brothers (and a sister that came much later on). I wasn't nearly as cool as her — I'm still not — but I loved that she represented being a person you couldn't pigeonhole as either the "smart girl" or the "pretty girl" or something else. She lived between the intersections. —Kovie Blakolo

13. Freddie Brooks from A Different World


She was goofy and sweet and a hippie and maybe a little undercover vixen.

I seem to recall her trying to school Whitley on sex and when Shazza tried to clown Kimberly and Ron for not getting it on enough, Freddie was like (above). —N.P.

14. Yvette Henderson from Smart Guy


Yvette Henderson being on TV was so encouraging for me. When you're so used to seeing white characters with straight hair, her aesthetic was relatable but she was a positive role model too: articulate, a feminist, intelligent, and independent. She had dreams of going to Princeton and I was digging those Ivy League aspirations. She was very much black girl magic before we had a name for it. —E.P.

15. Pam from Martin


Pam was a rock star on Martin and deserves way more accolades for it than she's ever gotten. Gina was cool, but it was Pam who managed to be sexy and confident no matter what insults Martin threw her way, and she never wavered. In fact, she was the only one who could go toe-to-toe with him when it came to playing the deuces. It was amazing to see a dark-skinned woman who didn't need to be "the girlfriend" or tied to a man to find her purpose. She was good all by herself. —S.O.


The name from No. 6 should read "Tamera" for Sister, Sister. A previous version had spelled the it as "Tamerra".

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