From “The Book of Negroes”, (for which she received a Critic’s Choice Award Best Actress nomination), to “The Birth of a Nation”, “If Beal Street Could Talk”, “When They See Us”, and now, the ground-breaking “Lovecraft Country”, Aunjanue Ellis has been putting in that work. Lots of it.
The California native—who spent all of her childhood summers, and now resides in Mississippi, began her acting career while in the Graduate Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her first professional acting gig was a Broadway production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, also starring (Sir) Patrick Stewart (okurrrrrr). Ellis has appeared in over 30 films, many, many television shows and was nominated for an Emmy this year for her role as the late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, matriarch and founder of one of Gospel Music’s most venerated and revered groups, The Clark Sisters in Lifetime’s highest rated original movie in four years : “The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel”.
Is Aunjanue Ellis accomplished? Absolutely. Is she a force who is about her craft and her business? Most definitely. But what makes Aunjanue Ellis one of Fearless Black Woman’s “Ladies We Love” is the fact that she is the embodiment of all we stand for. From her fearless choices in roles, to her activism (Ellis has been working for years with legislators in the state of Mississippi to retire the use of the confederate battle flag. In June of this year, the governor signed a bill to remove the emblem.), to her portrayal of Hippolyta Freeman, a Black woman astronomer in 1950—no easy feat. But we’ll get to that in a minute…
If you haven’t realized it yet, you’ve been seeing Aunjanue Ellis on screens for over two decades. And now it’s time for the world to recognize.
Back to Lovecraft Country, which we feel may be Ellis’s most important role to date. Hippolyta Freeman is a Black woman and astronomer living in Chicago in 1950’s America, with all that entails. She has a loving husband, whose well-meaning protection is stifling both her spirit and her intellect. She has a daughter she loves, and for whom she sacrifices much of her own sense of self and adventure. Please believe us when we say we can relate.
As the season progresses, we see Hippolyta come into her own as the brilliant mind that she is, and whew Chile…the fiercety that ensues as she does! (We’ll refrain from posting spoilers, as you still have time to check the series out. You’ll want to do that post-haste, btw). We will say though, that on top of everything else, Aunjanue Ellis is absolutely one of the most beautiful women we’ve seen on screen. Episode 7, “I Am” (about which there will be a full write-up in the very near future) is a must-watch for all of our sisters out there who need a reminder that we (and our bodies) are exceptional and beautiful and perfect at EVERY age.
We really could go on, but we’ll just say that Ellis is far from finished. Hippolyta isn’t the only one who is breaking new ground. We’re excited to see what projects this phenomenal, Fearless Black Woman will appear in next. Whatever it is, we’re already there…
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