Texas African Americans Who Changed Entertainment Forever
Texas has over 3 million African Americans in the state; more than any other state in the United States. That means we've seen many extremely talented African Americans change the world of music & film over the years; here are ten that have represented the state of Texas in the world of entertainment.
Debbie Allen (Houston)
The amount of accomplishments made by Houston's Debbie Allen is so vast, it would take forever to list everything. She's best known for her start on Broadway in 1970, she's won 5 Emmy Awards, 2 Tony Award, a Golden Globe & received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991. She's opened her own dance studio in Los Angeles. She's also the younger sister of Phylicia Rashad, who we will see later on this list.
Forest Whitaker (Longview)
Forest Whitaker from Longview made his film debut in 1982 in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Since then he has appeared in movies like Good Morning Vietnam & Black Panther winning an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a British Academy Film Award & 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Jaime Foxx (Terrell)
Representing Terrell, Texas, Jamie Foxx started his acting debut In Living Colour, and earned critical acclaim for his roles by portraying Ray Charles in Ray, Walter McMillian in Just Mercy, Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. He's an Academy Award, a Grammy, a Golden Globe among many more accomplishments.
Queen Bee, Beyoncé Knowles is a proud Houston native. Known for her role in Destiny's Child & her solo career, Beyoncé has appeared in a handful of movies (Austin Powers: Goldmember & the 2019 version of The Lion King) as well earning 32 total Grammy Awards.
While Usher was raised in Atlanta, the 8 time Grammy Award winner was born in Dallas. He's become one of the most well known artists from the 2000s & songs like "Confessions", "Yeah!" "Nice & Slow" are still loved to this day.
The Austin native is loved in St Louis & Texas alike. Since 1993, Nelly has become an extremely respected name in the world of hip hop; starting with the St Lunatics & starting his solo career in 1999 earning 3 Grammys & 9 Billboard Music Awards. He's also appeared in films such as The Longest Yard.
Phylicia Rashad (Houston)
You know her as Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show, but the world knows her as "The Mother of the Black Community". Houston's Phylicia Rashad was also the first black actress to win a Tony Award in 2004, by winning the Tony for Best Actress in a Play in A Raisin in the Sun.
Billy Preston (Houston)
You know you are a big deal when you not only work with The Beatles, but you are considered the 5th Beatle. He's one of the only non-Beatle musicians to earn a songwriting credit; he's appeared on "Get Back" & "Don't Let Me Down". He would later work with George Harrison after The Beatles broke up; as well as working with huge names in music: Little Richard, The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton.
He would pass away in 2006 but he's absolutely left a huge mark on music history that we remember today.
Etta Moten Barnett (Weimar)
Born in Weimer, Texas in 1901, musician historians know Etta Moten Barnett for her role as Bess in the classic musical Porgy & Bess. But her life story is much more than that;
- She was the first African American to perform at the White House for Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt,
- She was one of the first black women to appear in Hollywood movies (Dating back to the 30s)
- She was highly involved in women's rights.
She was pass away at the age of 102 in 2004. But she would be known as one of the most influential Texas women of all time.
I know there are other names I left out but I want to give a special mention to Lizzo, Khalid, Barry White, Gary Clark Jr, Megan Thee Stallion & Travis Scott. All these names & more have made made the world of entertainment that much better.