1. Audra McDonald

With six Tony Awards under her belt including Best Performance for “A Raisin in the Sun,” McDonald is the first person to win Tonys in all four acting categories.

2. Misty Copeland

Copeland became the first Black woman and woman of color to serve as the principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre in their 75-year history.

3. Cicely Tyson

In 2018, the late Tyson became the first African American woman to receive an honorary Oscar. “I don’t know that I would cherish a better gift,” she said during her acceptance speech. “This is the culmination of all those years of haves and have not.”

4. Mary J. Blige

The New York native’s 2018 Oscar nominations make her the first person to ever receive multiple Oscar nominations for both acting and original song in a single year.

5. Ava DuVernay

Her adaption of Disney’s “A Wrinkle In Time” made her the first Black woman director with a budget of over $100 million.

6. Phylicia Rashad

Rashad became the first Black actress to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 2004 for her role as Lena Younger in “A Raisin in the Sun.”

7. Regina King

King made her directorial debut in 2020 with “One Night in Miami” and the film made history by becoming the first movie directed by a Black woman to be selected to premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Additionally, she made Golden Globes history by becoming one of the three women to be nominated in the best director category. Before the 2020 nominations, only one woman would be nominated for that category.

8. Michelle Obama

Not only is Obama the first African American first lady, but she is also set to have the best-selling memoir in history with “Becoming.”

9. Beyoncé

As of 2021, Beyoncé has 79 Grammy nominations making her the most nominated female artist ever. And in 2018, the 24x Grammy-winning artist made history as the first Black woman to ever headline Coachella (or as fans call it, ‘Beychella’).

10. Dorothy Dandridge

Known for her leading role in “Carmen Jones”, Dandridge became the first Black woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1954.

11. Kamala Harris

January 20, 2021 marked the beginning of new leadership and another historical event: Harris became America’s first female, Black, and South Asian vice president.

12. Zendaya

The young actress’s 2020 Emmy win for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for Euphoria made her the youngest woman to win in that category.

13. Halle Berry

Berry’s first Academy Award win for best actress in 2002 made her the first and only Black woman to have won the award. In her acceptance speech, she highlighted the historical moment stating, “This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox.”

14. Vanessa Williams

Williams became the first Black woman to ever win Miss America after she was crowned in 1983.

15. Hattie McDaniel

The legendary actress was the first-ever African American to win an Academy Award for her performance in “Gone With the Wind.”

16. Oprah Winfrey

Harpo Studios, Winfrey’s production company that she launched in 1986, made her the first Black woman to run her own Hollywood studio. Nearly three decades later and she made history again by becoming the first Black female producer to land an Oscar nomination for best picture in the 2014 film, “Selma.”

17. Ruth E. Carter

Carter’s Academy Award for Best Costume Design in the 2018 Marvel film “Black Panther” made her the first African American to win in that category. And it doesn’t end there: in 2021 she is also the first Black costume designer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

18. Whoopi Goldberg

She became the first Black EGOT winner in 2002 after winning a Grammy in 1986 for her comedy record, an Academy Award in 1990 for “Ghost,” a Tony, and an Emmy in 2002. 

19. Laverne Cox

Known for her groundbreaking role as Sophie Burset in “Orange Is the New Black,” in 2014 Cox became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in any acting category. She was also the first transgender person to grace the cover of Time magazine.

20. Lauryn Hill

In the 1999 Grammys, Hill was the first woman to be nominated in ten categories in a single year and the first woman to win five times in one night.

21. Tyra Banks

Banks became the first African American to pose on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1996.

22. Shonda Rhimes

Responsible for “Scandal,” “Bridgerton,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” and much more, Rhimes is the highest-paid showrunner in Hollywood. In 2018, she signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Netflix expanding her Shondaland production company.

23. Viola Davis

Speaking of Shondaland, Davis became the first Black woman to win outstanding lead actress in a drama series for “How to Get Away with Murder” in 2015.

24. Simone Biles

Taking home her fourth gymnastics world championship title in 2018, Biles made history as the first woman to win four all-around world titles.

25. Toni Morrison

Morrison became the first African American to win the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature.

26. Da Brat

Selling one million copies in her debut album ‘Funkdafied,’ Da Brat is the first female solo rap act to receive a platinum certification.

27. Cathy Hughes

Cathy Hughes is the Founder and Chairperson of the largest African-American owned and operated broadcast company in the nation, Urban One. In 1999, she became the African-American woman to chair a publicly held corporation.

28. Stacey Abrams

In 2018, Stacey Abrams became the first African-American female major-party gubernatorial nominee in the United States.

29. Rosalind “Roz” Brewer

As of March 2021, Rosalind “Roz” Brewer became the only Black CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Brewer is also credited as the first Black woman to become CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Group President and COO of Starbucks, and CEO of Sam’s Club.

30. Dr. Ala Stanford

Dr. Ala Stanford was the first to bring mobile testing to the city of Philadelphia after realizing the racial and ethnic disparities caused by COVID-19.

31. Robin Rue Simmons

Evanston, Illinois became the first United States city to issue reparations for Black residents with the help of the alderman of Evanston’s 5th Ward, Robin Rue Simmons.