Angela Bassett Biography, Career, Awards, Husband, Children

Angela Evelyn Bassett is an American actress and producer best recognized for portraying prominent women throughout history on stage, television, and in major motion pictures.

Early Life

Bassett was born in New York, New York on August 16, 1958. Bassett, her sister D’Nette, and their mother moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, after her father, Daniel Benjamin Bassett, and mother, Betty Jane (Gilbert), divorced when she was four years old. She went to Jordan Park Elementary School, Disston Middle School (seventh grade), and Azalea Middle School (eighth and ninth grades).

She was a cheerleader, choir member, debate team member, student government member, theatre club member, and the first African American student at her school to be accepted into the National Honor Society. She graduated in 1976 and continued her study at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in African-American studies in 1980. Bassett then went on to the Yale School of Drama, where she earned a master’s degree in fine arts in 1983.


Bassett worked as a picture researcher and a beauty salon receptionist before landing her first acting role in J.E. Franklin’s play “Black Girl” (1985) at Second Stage Theatre in New York. She then appeared in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and Joe Turner’s “Come and Gone.” Her first television part was also in 1985, in the made-for-TV film “Doubletake,” and she made her film debut in the film “F/X” (1986).

Bassett moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1988, and rose to prominence with her roles as Betty Shabazz in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” (1992), Katherine Jackson in ABC’s “The Jacksons: An American Dream,” and Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got To Do With It” (1993). She appeared in two adaptations of Terry McMillan’s books, “Waiting to Exhale” (1995) and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” (1998).

Bassett portrays Rosa Parks in the 2002 television film “The Rosa Parks Story.” Her voice was utilized as Ms. April in the film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (2005). She portrayed Shatter, a Decepticon, in “Bumblebee” (2018), a narrator in “The Flood” (2018), Mildred in “Meet The Robinsons” (2007), and Dorothea Williams in Disney’s “Soul” (2020).

Bassett has played Voletta Wallace, the mother of rapper The Notorious B.I.G., in “Notorious” (2009), Coretta Scott King in the Lifetime network film “Betty and Coretta” (2013), and Louisiana Creole Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau on the FX television show “American Horror Story” (2013), to name a few.

Bassett received SAG and BAFTA nominations for her role as Queen Ramonda in “Black Panther” (2018) and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2022), as well as a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress at the 80th Golden Globe Awards, and the first Academy Award nomination for anyone in a Marvel Studios film. Honorary degrees have been bestowed upon her by Morehouse College, Old Dominion University, Chapman University, and Yale. Bassett is a UNICEF Celebrity Ambassador for Type 2 diabetes, an honorary member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In June 2023, How Africa reports that Bassett will receive an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Academy announced that Bassett, 64, will receive an Academy Honorary Award alongside comedy legend Mel Brooks and editor Carol Littleton, with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award going to the Sundance Institute’s Michelle Satter, November 18, 2023.

Personal Life

Bassett married Courtney B. Vance in 1997, and the couple welcomed twins Bronwyn and Slater in 2006.

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