Angela Evelyn Bassett (born August 16, 1958) is an American actress and comedienne. She has become well known for her biographical film roles portraying real life women in African American culture, including Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It, as well as Betty Shabazz in Malcolm X and Panther, Rosa Parks in The Rosa Parks Story, Katherine Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream,and Voletta Wallace in Notorious.
Bassett was born Angela Evelyn Bassett in Harlem, New York on August 16, 1958, 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 career
In 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 Jacksons: An American Dream. Later that year, Bassett was cast as Tina Turner in 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 played Lornette "Mace" Mason, a chauffeur and bodyguard. In Vampire in Brooklyn, she played 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 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 1999, Bassett starred in Music of the Heart, once collaborating with the horror icon Wes Craven. In 2000, Bassett turned down the lead role in Monster's Ball because of 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 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 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, Bassett 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, released in 2011, as notable DC Comics character Amanda Waller.
In 2011, Bassett co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson in the play The Mountaintop a fictionalized depiction of the night before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King (Jackson portrays MLK) while at the Lorraine Hotel. The critically acclaimed play by Katori Hall originally debuted in London's West End in 2009 and went on to win the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best New Play. The production opened on Broadway on October 13, 2011.
Bassett married Courtney B. Vance in 1997. In the summer of 2005, they starred together in a production of His Girl Friday at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The couple's children – son Slater Josiah and daughter Bronwyn Golden - were born on January 27, 2006.
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 USA. 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.
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Bassett