Early lifeBassett was born August 16, 1958 in Harlem, the daughter of Betty Jane and Daniel Benjamin Bassett. After her parents' separation, she relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she and her sister D'nette were raised by their social worker/civil servant mother. As her interest in entertainment developed, Angela and her sister would often put on shows, reading poems or performing popular music for their family. At Boca Ciega High School, Bassett was a cheerleader and a member of the debate team, student government, drama club and choir.
Bassett attended Yale University and received her B.A. degree in African-American studies in 1980. In 1983, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama. At Yale, Bassett met her future husband Courtney B. Vance, a 1986 graduate of the drama school. After graduation, Bassett worked as a receptionist for a beauty salon and as a photo researcher.
Bassett soon looked for acting work in the New York theater. One of her first New York performances came in 1985 when she appeared in J. E. Franklin's Black Girl at Second Stage Theatre. She appeared in two August Wilson plays at the Yale Repertory Theatre under the direction of her long-time instructor Lloyd Richards. The Wilson plays featuring Bassett were Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1984) and Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1986). In 2006, she had the opportunity to work on the Wilson canon again, starring in Fences alongside longtime collaborator Laurence Fishburne at the Pasadena Playhouse in California.
Television and film careerIn 1985, Bassett made her first television appearance as a prostitute in the TV movie Doubletake. However, she made her official film debut as a news reporter in F/X (1986). Bassett moved to Los Angeles and gained recognition in the films Boyz n the Hood (1991) and Malcolm X (1992). For her portrayal of Betty Shabazz, she earned an Image Award.
In 1992, Bassett played Katherine Jackson in the mini series The Jacksons: An American Dream. Later that year, Bassett was cast as Tina Turner in the feature film What's Love Got to Do with It (1993). Bassett won a Golden Globe and earned an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Turner. She was the first African-American to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Bassett starred in three movies in 1995, which were released with varied reactions from critics: Vampire in Brooklyn, Strange Days, and Waiting to Exhale (where she worked with author Terry McMillan). In Strange Days, Bassett plays Lornette "Mace" Mason, a chauffeur and bodyguard. In Vampire in Brooklyn, she plays Rita Veder, a tortured cop with a dark secret. Bassett's character in Waiting to Exhale, Bernadine Harris, was betrayed by her husband and in revenge she set fire to his entire wardrobe and vehicle, then sold what was left for one dollar.
In 1998, Bassett starred in the film How Stella Got Her Groove Back, once again collaborating with McMillan. She played Stella, a 40-year-old American professional woman who falls in love with a 20-year-old Jamaican man. In 2000, Bassett turned down the lead role in Monster's Ball due to the script's sexual content; the role earned Halle Berry the Academy Award for Best Actress.
In 2003, she read from the WPA slave narratives in the HBO film Unchained Memories. In the 1930s, about 100,000 former slaves were still living during the Great Depression, of which 2,300 were interviewed part of the Federal Writers' Project. The transcripts of the Slave Narratives collection of the Library of Congress is a record of slavery, bondage and misery.
Bassett joined the regular cast of the medical drama series ER for the show's final season (2008–2009). She portrayed Dr. Catherine Banfield, an exacting Chief of the ER who was also working to recover from the death of a son and to bring another child into her family. Bassett's husband Courtney Vance played her television husband on ER as Russell Banfield.
In 2010, Basset lent her voice to portray First Lady Michelle Obama on an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Stealing First Base". Bassett was also cast in the superhero film Green Lantern, to be released in 2011, as notable DC Comics character Amanda Waller.
In 2010, Deadline.com reported that Bassett would have a role in ABC's show, One Police Plaza.
Bassett married actor Courtney B. Vance in 1997. In the summer of 2005, they starred together in a production of the play His Girl Friday at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Trying for seven years since 2000, Bassett suffered two miscarriages. The couple's children -- son Slater Josiah and daughter Bronwyn Golden-- were born on January 27, 2006 in California via surrogate.
Bassett is an avid supporter of programs for the Arts, especially for youth. She annually attends events for children with diabetes and those in foster homes. She is an active Ambassador of UNICEF for the United States. Bassett is a big supporter of the Royal Theater Boys & Girls Club in her hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. The Club is one of the first all performing arts Boys & Girls Clubs in the country.
Bassett is represented by the Executive Speakers Bureau of Memphis, Tennessee and receives over $50,000 per appearance.
Filmography and awards
|1991||Critters 4||Fran||Released Straight-to-Video|
|1991||Boyz n the Hood||Reva Devereaux|
|1991||City of Hope||Reesha|
|1992||Innocent Blood||U.S. Attorney Sinclair|
|1992||Malcolm X||Betty Shabazz|
|1993||What's Love Got to Do with It||Anna Mae Bullock/Tina Turner|
|1995||Vampire in Brooklyn||Det. Rita Veder|
|1995||Strange Days||Lornette 'Mace' Mason|
|1995||Waiting to Exhale||Bernadine 'Bernie' Harris|
|1998||How Stella Got Her Groove Back||Stella|
|1999||Our Friend, Martin||Miles' Mom||Voice role, released Straight-to-Video|
|1999||Music of the Heart||Principal Janet Williams|
|2000||Supernova||Dr. Kaela Evers|
|2000||Whispers: An Elephant's Tale||Groove||Voice Role|
|2000||Boesman and Lena||Lena|
|2002||Sunshine State||Desiree Stokes Perry|
|2003||Masked and Anonymous||Mistress|
|2004||The Lazarus Child||Dr. Elizabeth Chase|
|2004||Mr. 3000||Maureen 'Mo' Simmons|
|2005||Mr. & Mrs. Smith||Mr. Smith's Boss||Uncredited voice role|
|2006||Akeelah and the Bee||Tanya Anderson|
|2007||Meet the Robinsons||Mildred||Voice role|
|2008||Gospel Hill||Sarah Malcolm|
|2008||Of Boys and Men||Rieta Cole|
|2008||Meet the Browns||Brenda Brown|
|2008||Nothing But the Truth||Bonnie Benjamin|
|2011||Jumping the Broom||Mrs. Watson|
|2011||Green Lantern||Amanda Waller|
|1985||Doubletake||Prostitute at Headquarters||CBS TV-Movie|
|1985||Spenser: For Hire||Joe's Daughter||Episode: "The Choice"|
|1985, 1988||The Cosby Show||Mrs. Mitchell |
|Episode: "Mr. Quiet" |
|1986||Liberty||Linda Thornton||NBC TV-Movie|
|1987||Ryan's Hope||Leonie Peach|
|1989||A Man Called Hawk||Bailey Webster||Episodes: "The Master's Mirror" and "Never My Love"|
|1989||Tour of Duty||Lt. Camilla Patterson||Episodes: "Hard Stripe" and "The Volunteer"|
|1989||227||Amy Burnett||Episode: "A Pampered Tale"|
|1989||Thirtysomething||Kate Harriton||Episode: "Legacy"|
|1990||Family of Spies||Bev Andress||CBS TV-Movie|
|1990||Alien Nation||Renee Longstreet||Episode: "Eyewitness News"|
|1990||Challenger||Cheryl McNair||ABC TV-Movie|
|1990||Equal Justice||Janet Fields||Episode: "Goodbye, Judge Green"|
|1990||In the Best Interest of the Child||Lori||CBS TV-Movie|
|1990||Perry Mason: In the Case of the Silenced Singer||Carla Peters||NBC TV-Movie|
|1991||Line of Fire: The Morris Dees Story||Pat||NBC TV-Movie|
|1991||The Flash||Linda Lake||Episode: "Beat the Clock"|
|1991||Fire: Trapped on the 37th Floor||Allison||ABC TV-Movie|
|1991||Stat||Dr. Willie Burns||Episode: "Ladyfinger"|
|1991||The Heroes of Desert Storm||Lt. Phoebe Jeter||ABC TV-Movie|
|1991||Locked Up: A Mother's Rage||Willie||TV-Movie|
|1991||One Special Victory||Lois||NBC TV-Movie|
|1992||Nightmare Cafe||Evelyn||Episode: "Sanctuary for a Child"|
|1992||The Jacksons: An American Dream||Katherine Jackson||ABC Miniseries|
|1995||Get Smart||Uncredited role as Runway Model||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2001||Ruby's Bucket of Blood||Ruby Delacroix||Showtime TV-Movie|
|2002||The Rosa Parks Story||Rosa Parks||CBS TV-Movie|
|2003||Freedom: A History of Us||Sheyann Webb |
|PBS Miniseries |
Episodes: "Marching to Freedom Land" and "Let Freedom Ring"
|2005||Alias||CIA Director Hayden Chase||Episodes: "Authorized Personnel Only", "The Index", "The Descent" and "Search And Rescue"|
|2006||Time Bomb||Jill Greco||CBS TV-Movie|
|ER||Dr. Cate Banfield|
|2010||The Simpsons||First Lady Michelle Obama||Episode: Stealing First Base (voice)|
|1994||Academy Award||Best Actress||Nominated||What's Love Got to Do with It|
|1994||Golden Globe||Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy||Won||What's Love Got to Do with It|
|1995||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture||Won||What's Love Got to Do with It|
|1995||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture||Won||Malcolm X|
|1995||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture||Won||Waiting to Exhale|
|1996||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series||Nominated||Storytime|
|1996||Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Award||Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.||Recipient|
|1996||Saturn Award||Best Actress||Won||Strange Days|
|1998||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated||Contact|
|1999||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture||Won||How Stella Got Her Groove Back|
|2000||Black Reel Award||Best Supporting Actress in a Theatrical Film||Nominated||Music of the Heart|
|2000||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture||Won||Music of the Heart|
|2001||Black Reel Award||Best Actress in a Theatrical Film||Nominated||Boseman and Lena|
|2001||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated||Boseman and Lena|
|2002||Black Reel Award||Best Actress in a Network or Cable Film||Won||Ruby's Bucket of Blood|
|2002||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special||Won||Ruby's Bucket of Blood|
|2002||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture||Won||The Score|
|2002||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries||Nominated||Ruby's Bucket of Blood|
|2003||Black Reel Award||Best Actress in a Theatrical Film||Won||Sunshine State|
|2003||Black Reel Award||Best Actress in a Network or Cable Film||Won||The Rosa Parks Story|
|2002||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini-Series or Television Movie||Nominated||The Rosa Parks Story|
|2003||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Children's Special||Nominated (shared nomination)||Our America|
|2003||Image Award||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Won||Sunshine State|
|2003||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Won||Sunshine State|
|2003||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special||Won||The Rosa Parks Story|
|2005||Black Reel Award||Best Actress, Musical or Comedy||Nominated||Mr. 3000|
|2005||BET Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Theatrical Film||Nominated||Mr. 3000|
|2005||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated||Mr. 3000|
|2006||Black Movie Award||Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role||Won||Akeelah and the Bee|
|2007||Black Reel Award||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated||Akeelah and the Bee|
|2007||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated||Akeelah and the Bee|
|2009||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated||Meet the Browns|
|2007||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Won||ER|
|2010||Black Reel Award||As a member of the Best Ensemble||Nominated||Notorious|