There’s acting, and then there’s completely embodying a role to the point that we couldn’t envision anyone else playing the character. We’re highlighting actresses who mothered their performances as boss women and got us hooked to some of our favorite TV dramas.
These women are top tier at their craft; when you think of the shows they star in, they are the first character that comes to mind. Their roles are delivered on a silver platter, and fans still rave about them – even after some shows have stopped airing. Whether this influences you to rewatch an old series or introduces you to a new one, enjoy this ode to amazing women who’ve killed it in playing their characters.
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
The fixer of all fixers! If you’re ever in a bind, you could only wish for Olivia Pope to save the day. No one could play Olivia Pope, a mega political crisis manager, the way Kerry Washington did. If you need a full refresher on just how exhilarating and addictive Kerry Washington’s performance as Olivia Pope was, all seven seasons of Scandal are streaming on Hulu. From Olivia’s memorable cutthroat monologues to the undeniable chemistry between the love triangle that is Fitz and Jake, she underscores the epitome of how a leading actress in a tv drama should be.
Olivia Pope strolled into the Oval Office and shattered the glass ceiling on what roles for black women could look like. #Scandal pic.twitter.com/yhTsuXAA8b
— Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) April 19, 2018
⚫️Olivia Pope⚪️ pic.twitter.com/1nuehSctIq
— Scandal (@ScandalABC) March 1, 2022
I don’t even call it Scandal anymore I’m watching Olivia Pope!!
— Ceceliah🤎 (@sazdabrat) March 14, 2023
Viola Davis as Annaliese Keating
The iconic role of Annaliese Keating, a practicing criminal defense attorney and law professor, was played by none other than Viola Davis on the Emmy-winning drama series How to Get Away With Murder. This show took so many complicated twists and turns, keeping our blood pressures high, and at the helm of it all was Annaliese in her brilliance. She portrayed a confident yet chaotic anti-hero of sorts that ebbs between right and wrong and could care less about her likeability. As a dark skinned Black woman who doesn’t look like the rest of the professors, Viola Davis brings a pronounced authenticity to her portrayal of Annaliese. She’s made a meaningful impact on the types of narratives that can be told when Black women are given dynamic roles, showcasing how purposeful they can be portrayed.
How to get away with murder has ended. Everyone say thank you to Viola Davis for playing the role of the iconic Annalise Keating.#HTGAWM #HTGAWMfinale pic.twitter.com/08oGGnMAts
— chu (@chuuzus) May 15, 2020
The Thursday’s aren’t Thursdaying anymore!!! 😫 I need Annaliese Keating & Olivia Pope on a tv show together immediately. Either battling it out against each other in the courtroom as or owning a law firm together serving justice.#Scandal #HTGAWM
— The IT Girl 💅🏾 (@drivethisbenz_) November 3, 2022
viola davis deserves another oscar for this scene. this scene is so important and even if you don’t watch htgawm please watch this and think about this. pic.twitter.com/OxA7ZwEAtF
— tiny t⎊ny (@woIvern) March 3, 2018
Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson
SVU would not be SVU without Captain Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay. Since 1999, she’s held this role down and proven how invaluable she is to the Law and Order: Special Victims Unit franchise and the world. Mariska has given us outstanding performances as Olivia, who is an empathetic vehicle for justice, for almost 25 years on one of the most beloved shows, attributable to her dedication and full embrace in becoming her character. She plays the role extremely well, and you can still watch her in action as season 24 is currently releasing new episodes.
happy #InternationalWomensDay to olivia benson, mother to many 🫂 pic.twitter.com/t5vjJlS2bZ
— pj (@seIinameyer) March 8, 2023
Olivia Benson mother to many ❤️ pic.twitter.com/4dTCYizR2Q
— Toni ❁ (parody) (@oliviaxstabler) March 8, 2023
Everyone wants to talk about Ellen Pompeo playing Meridith Grey since 2005. How about we put some respect on Mariska Hargitay playing Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU since 1999. pic.twitter.com/OvxMz4Zdc8
— Latrell Floyd, MS, MPA (@Trell_Official_) December 6, 2022
Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson
In the legal drama Suits, Gina Torres slays as Jessica Pearson, co-founder and managing partner at a top Manhattan law firm. Torres typifies unadulterated excellence as Jessica Pearson, giving the audience everything from amazing style to vigorous decision making. Her character represented a no-nonsense boss whose eyes were always on winning, which sometimes led to questionable choices. Nevertheless, playing Jessica represents the same type of powerhouse and driven qualities Gina incorporates in her life and uplifts the representation of Afro-Latina women in significant leading roles.
Jessica Pearson 🥺😍 Ah Suits! It’s been so long. What an amazing show damn!
— Ariel The Mermaid (@sa_squaddie) March 10, 2023
Her wardrobe in Suits was 🔥🔥🔥
Gina Torres (Jessica Pearson). pic.twitter.com/JYWmS3zJnR
— Sam Hart (@hartng) February 21, 2021
Gina Torres.. you made me cry with your fantastic acting in the latest episode of Suits. Can’t imagine Suits without you 🙁
— Nikita Mishra (@nikimis0926) September 16, 2016
Chandra Wilson as Dr. Miranda Bailey
Dr. Miranda Bailey, played by Chandra Wilson in the infamous medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, is a general surgeon and former Chief of Surgery who showcases all the best qualities of a leader. At first, she is a difficult character to love; throughout the 19 seasons of the show and four Emmy nominations for her exceptional acting, she’s evolved into a maternal figure and moral compass for all characters in the show. Through playing Dr. Bailey, Wilson has created one of the best examples of a Black woman in a medical leadership role on television. She exemplifies how medical care should be carried through her empathetic care and incredibly smart mind, inspiring many to go into the field in real life.
and the award for best mentor in the history of grey’s anatomy goes to miranda bailey pic.twitter.com/aevG3Z8fq5
— Grey’s Anatomy (@The_GreyMethod) December 14, 2022
Greys Anatomy could’ve been about Miranda Bailey…and her running the whole hospital with the interns to be honest. pic.twitter.com/9U7VkmVmsO
— LaDarrion Williams (@ItsLaDarrion) May 10, 2021
3. Miranda Bailey – hands down one of the best parts of Greys Anatomy pic.twitter.com/KjtAUNaYhR
— jason – fan account (@jasonsproblems) February 5, 2022