Angela Bassett’s 10 Most Legendary Film Roles

A graduate of the Yale School Of Drama, the formidable Angela Bassett has been making a name for herself in films and on television since the mid-1980’s. Though she is currently slaying the game on FX’s American Horror Story, it’s Bassett’s iconic filmography that continues to be timeless. From some Spike Lee Joints to a couple of sensation biopics, here are Angela Bassett’s 10 most legendary film roles.

20th Century Fox
Following up her performance in Waiting to Exhale, Bassett returned to the big screen in another Terry McMillan adaptation, How Stella Got Her Groove Back. In the film, Bassett stars a Stella, a career driven single mother who while vacationing in Jamaica, falls for a much younger man Taye Diggs. While this adaptation is no where near as good as the book, Bassett's star power and performance certainly can't be ignored. Plus the film is just so gorgeous to watch. Check out the trailer here.
20th Century Fox/Everett
In Kathryn Bigelow's 1995 feature, Bassett starred opposite Ralph Fiennes in this science fiction thriller about a former policeman and his friend who uncover a conspiracey theory much larger than anything they could have ever expected. Check out the trailer here.
Notorious (2009)
Fox Searchlight
In Notorious, the biopic of the late great Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls, Bassett stars as Wallace's mother Voletta Wallace, a mother desperate to reign in her son's rebellious ways throughout his childhood and into his unparalleled success. Though Bassett's character isn't the focus of the film, she's commands all of the attention when she's onscreen. Check out the trailer here.
article continues below ad
Akeelah and the Bee should have been one of the typical cliche films about a girl who overcomes obstacles. However, with a smart script, and Bassett joining Laurence Fishburne and Keke Palmer, the film more than makes up for it's somewhat mundane story line. Watch the trailer here.
In a shockingly light-hearted film for director Wes CravenMeryl Streep stars as a Harlem violin teacher who works tirelessly to save her school's arts program. In the film, Bassett starred as Principal Janet Williams. Her performance along with Streep's (who was nominated for an Academy Award) is what sets Music Of The Heart apart from traditional sappy films of the same genre. See the trailer here.
20th Century Fox
In the adaptation of Terry McMillan's best selling novel Waiting To Exhale, Bassett starred as Bernadine Harris, a scorned wife trying to pick up the pieces of her life after her husband leaves her for his secretary. Rounding out the character driven ensemble picture is the late Whitney Houston, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon. With one of the most iconic revenge scenes ever seen on screen and with Forest Whitaker helming the picture as director, Waiting To Exhale is the perfect film for a girl's night in. Watch the trailer here.
article continues below ad
The Rosa Parks Story (2002)
No stranger to biopics by the early 2000's Angela Bassett stepped onto the shoes of iconic Civil Right's activist Rosa Parks, in CBS's TV film, The Rosa Parks Story. Focusing on the days following Parks' iconic arrest and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Bassett's stunning command of the screen made this biopic a must watch. Check out the trailer here.
Malcolm X (1992)
Warner Bros,/Everett
In the biopic helmed by Spike Lee on the life of Malcolm X, Angela Bassett starred opposite Denzel Washington as the late activist's wife, Betty Shabazz. While the film focuses mostly on the slain legend, Bassett's Shabazz is riveting from the moment she is introduced. Watch the trailer here.
Columbia Pictures
In the film that helped give a voice to a unheard generation, Angela Bassett starred in John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood as Reva Styles, a working single mother, who sends her son Tre to South Central, Los Angeles to live with his strict father. Though Bassett didn't have a ton of screen time in this hood-homeboy film, her scenes, especially those with her frequent collaborator Laurence Fishburne resonate and remain poignant 25 years later. Watch the trailer for the film here.
article continues below ad
Buena Vista Pictures
Bassett earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her sensational portrayal of the iconic Tina Turner. Paired again with Laurence Fishburne as Ike Turner, What's Love Got To Do With It? offered viewers an intimate window into Turner's tumultuous love life and career. From her nuanced acting to her onstage performances, Bassett as Turner is still one of the best biopics to ever come to the silver screen. Watch the trailer for the film here.