Denise Matthews, better known as Vanity, was every guy’s favorite “nasty girl” in the 1980s (AP Photo).
The 50 Most Beautiful Black Female Celebrities of All Time
By Kevin Hunter
Let the debates begin again! Last week, Regal Magazine published the women ranked 34-50 in our list of the 50 most beautiful Black female celebrities of all time. Today we unveil numbers 18-33 of our list in honor of Black History Month. Check back next Friday to see who claims the top spot on our coveted list.
18. Nia Long
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Long’s parents are of Afro and Trinidadian descent. We know Nia Long for such roles as Will Smith’s unbelievably hot and beautiful girlfriend Lisa Wilkes on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” as Andrea Solomon on “Judging Amy,” as Officer Sasha Monroe on “Third Watch,” as Katie Graham on “Big Shots,” and in movies such as Big Momma’s House, Soul Food and Friday just to name a few. Long is currently on the board of directors for the non-profit organization, the HerShe Group, which helps in the development and making a difference in the lives of young girls in foster care in Los Angeles.
19. Gabrielle Union
One look at Gabrielle Union and all you can think of is just how hot and beautiful this actress and model and former cheerleader from Omaha, Neb is. Known for television and movie parts that are opinionated and strong, according to www.imdb.com, Union says that, “Hollywood needs to recognize all shades of African American beauty.” A UCLA honors graduate with a degree in sociology, and fluent in Spanish, Union broke ground on the popular NBC TV show “Friends” as the first African American love interest on the show. It was for only one episode; easily making her one of the most beautiful women of all time to ever appear on the hit show. Since then Union has appeared in such popular shows as “Family Matters,” “Moesha,” “Saved by the Bell,” “The West Wing,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “7th Heaven,” “ER,” and “Ugly Betty.” Union has also been featured on the big screen in, Bad Boys II, Bring It On, Cadillac Records, and Deliver Us From Eva.
20. Lauren London
Since making her acting and big screen debut in the film the ATL opposite recording artist Tip “TI” Harris, Lauren London has been hitting her stride and fans are taking notice to this beauty from Los Angeles. London is such a talent that she was offered the part of Melanie “Mel” Whitfield in the 2007 holiday movie This Christmas featuring Delroy Lindo, Idris Elba, Loretta Devine and Regina King without an audition. Since then London has had featured rolls on “Everyone Hates Chris,” “Entourage,” “90210,” and the Tyler Perry film Madea’s Big Happy Family. London may be a force to be reckoned with in the future as she said that her goal in five years is to win an Academy Award.
21. Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson is another actress with one of the most diverse resumes to go along with her beauty. The Academy Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with Brad Pitt has proven there are very few parts that this stunning single mother can’t and won’t take on. From her current stint as the tough Detective Carter on the CBS television drama “Person of Interest” to other big screen roles in Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself, and Hustle & Flow where she won a BET Award for Best Actress, Henson has proven that she’s not afraid to take on anything challenging. That’s quite a feat when you consider the limited amount of acting jobs available for African American women today.
Beyonce Knowles has it all. She’s multi-talented, and a dominant force in the entertainment industry where everything she touches seems to turn into gold. The curvaceous “Bootylicious” diva who told all the single ladies to tell their men to put a ring on their finger, can only have us worship her from afar as she had world renowned rapper Jay-Z put a ring on her finger a few years ago. She has been nominated for a couple of 2012 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Song Collaboration for “Party,” and Best Long Form Music Video for her “I Am… World Tour.” The announcement of her pregnancy and birth of her daughter Blue Ivy made headlines all over the world and broke a Twitter record for most tweets per second and shattered a few Google search records. She is one of the most beautiful women of all time and she’ll no doubt be on the list of Hottest Moms of all time.
23. Tatyana Ali
Tatyana Ali was the cute and bubbly Ashley Banks, the cousin of Will Smith on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” for more than six seasons from 1990-1996 where she was nominated for and won numerous awards for Best Child Actress. Ali has since blossomed from cute child actress to become one of the most beautiful women of all time. Ali comes from parents of Afro-Panamanian and Trinidadian descent and has been acting since making her debut on “Sesame Street” at age six, performing with Herbie Hancock. Ali has released an album, “Kiss the Sky” in 1998 where it was certified gold in the United Kingdom. Today she continues to sing and act and has the lead role of Tyana Jones in the TV One series, “Love That Girl!” Ali is as smart as she is beautiful as she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and African American studies from Harvard University in 2002.
It was so hard and so wrong for many of us to look at Robyn Rihanna Fenty as she gyrated across our television and computer screens with her 2006 number one hit “SOS” at the age of 17. As she turns 24 on Feb. 20, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and recognize her as one of sexiest and hottest women alive! Not only does the Saint Michael, Barbados-born singer and actress set hearts on fire with her unbelievably great looks, she has also set the music charts on fire as well. At just 23 years of age, the sultry singer has already become one of the music industry’s biggest selling artists of all time. Rihanna has already sold an amazing 20 million albums and 60 million singles. She is the biggest selling digital singles artist of all time in the U.S. with 48 million. Her 11 number-one singles also makes her the youngest singer ever to achieve such a feat. She has won just about every music award around and everything she touches turns to gold, and she’s just getting started.
25. Zoe Saldana
If you think Uhura was hot back when the Starship Enterprise was stuck in space traveling from planet to planet, she was just as hot as a youngster before the spaceship left Earth. Zoe Saldana did the character justice in her role as Uhura in the 2008 film Star Trek. Born to Dominican and Puerto Rican parents, Saldana is one of the most beautiful women of all time as the young actress is one of the few who could make an alien look hot as she did as Neytiri in the blockbuster film Avatar. That was one of three movies Saldana starred in that were in the top 20 for three consecutive weeks. The other two were The Losers and Death at a Funeral.
26. Traci Bingham
Traci Bingham was the first (and only) African American female on the long-running series “Baywatch” appearing for just one season in 1999 as Jordan Tate. But there was no doubt that this beauty of African American, Italian and Native American heritage held her own on the beauty and hottie scale in that hot red lifeguard swimsuit with the likes of Pamela Anderson and the rest. Bingham continues to act and has worked as a model, appeared in various reality shows and is a committed vegetarian and member of PETA.
27. Vivica A. Fox
Throughout her career, Vivica A. Fox has appeared on so many lists as one of the hottest and most beautiful women of all time. The actress and TV producer with killer looks and a body that could make the blind see, was great as Will Smith’s stripper girlfriend in Independence Day, as Maxine in Soul Food, and as Vernita Green in Kill Bill: Vol. 1. The daughter of African American and Native American parents, Fox got her start in such daytime soap operas as “Generations,” “Days of Our Lives,” and “The Young and the Restless.” She continues to act today and can be heard as the voice of Angel Dynamite on the kids show, “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.”
28. Rae Dawn Chong
Rae Dawn Chong is the daughter of Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame, and is a combination of Chinese and Scottish-Irish and African-Canadian. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Chong was one of the hottest actresses in the 1980s appearing in such hit movies as The Color Purple, Commando and Quest For Fire. In an odd move early in her career, Chong was originally slated to play the part of Willis’ girlfriend in “Diff’rent Strokes.” The part was given to Janet Jackson instead as Chong was told by producers that she wasn’t ethnic enough. Go figure.
29. Janet Jackson
Many of us remember Janet Jackson as far back as the cute Millicent “Penny” Woods in “Good Times,” as Willis Drummond’s girlfriend Charlene DuPrey in “Diff’rent Strokes,” and mainly for being Michael Jackson’s kid sister. But that’s where the cuteness ends and the hotness begins. As one of the most beautiful women of all time, the incredibly talented and sexy Jackson took “Control,” created a “Rhythm Nation” of millions and has been one of the biggest singers and performers for the better part of three decades. Jackson has amassed a ton of hits as she was able to come out of her older brothers’ shadows to become one of the biggest selling recording artists of all time. She has such an incredible beauty and sex appeal like no other as has been portrayed on many of her songs. But who can forget the famous Rolling Stone cover from September 1993 with then husband Rene Elizondo, Jr. covering her breasts, and the infamous incident during a halftime performance at the 2004 Super Bowl where not even Justin Timberlake could prevent the greatest wardrobe malfunctions in history!
30. Alicia Keys
There are a handful of singers on this list and it would not be complete without Alicia Keys as one of the most beautiful women of all time. Her beauty and sex appeal are only matched by her incredible singing voice. Born to a Italian/Scottish mother and African American father, Keys has been singing and acting since she was a child and her debut album, “Songs in A Minor” sold more than 12 million copies worldwide earning her five Grammy Awards in 2002. She continues to sell millions of albums and sell out concerts worldwide. Keys is also involved in the non-profit organization, “Keep a Child Alive,” which provides medicine to families with HIV and AIDS in Africa.
31. Kelly Rowland
As one of the original members of Destiny’s Child with Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland was part of a supergroup that sold 40 million albums and 20 million singles. But Rowland has carved out a pretty successful career of her own as a solo singer selling more than four million albums and 18 million singles. She has been a budding actress since 2002 and is working on her fourth album scheduled for release sometime in 2012. Rowland also does a variety of charity work with several organizations, including the philanthropic Knowles-Rowland Center for Youth, which helps disadvantage youth in her hometown of Houston.
32. Denise Matthews
There are two sides to the beautiful Canadian-born Denise Matthews, who is of German and African American heritage. She was easily regarded as one of the most beautiful women of all time as a former Prince protégé and siren who was the singer and actress we all knew as Vanity. Matthews also starred in such films as The Last Dragon, Action Jackson, and 52 Pick-Up. As a member of the all girl group Vanity 6, she scored with the hit “Nasty Girl” in 1982. Then there’s the Matthews who left the entertainment industry and her past life altogether and became a born again Christian in 1994. Today Matthews is as beautiful as ever and looks almost angelic as she has given her life completely to evangelism and preaching the Gospel on television and at churches all over the world.
33. Jayne Kennedy
Jayne Kennedy could be considered as one of the most beautiful women of all time in sports, even though she was never an athlete. Kennedy was one of the hosts of CBS’ “The NFL Today” from 1978-79 – the first African American female to have such a role. The former Miss Ohio USA and Ebony and Jet cover girl is so beautiful that her face was once insured for one million dollars. Kennedy was the first African American actress to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine, and was considered for one of the leads in the original “Charlie’s Angels'” TV series. Kennedy has modeled for numerous magazines and appeared in various movies and TV shows. She was involved in a high-profile marriage to Leon Isaac Kennedy for 12 years and the two starred in the 1981 film, Body and Soul.
Hunter is a contributing writer for Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.