Caribbean actresses have achieved great success in Hollywood. The entertainment industry is increasingly interested in telling stories and introducing characters that reflect the world’s diversity. They, with their unique cultural and ethnic backgrounds, offer a fresh and appealing perspective to filmmakers and audiences.
Also, many Caribbean actresses are bilingual or even trilingual, which allows them to work on a variety of projects and roles in different languages. In addition to this, they have received rigorous acting training at drama schools and other institutions in their home countries. This gives them a solid foundation on which to build a career in Hollywood.
In short, Caribbean actresses have attained success in Hollywood thanks to their diversity, talent, multilingualism and acting training. Additionally, their personal style, charisma and social media presence have also contributed to their success.
Here we share our list of 9 Caribbean actresses who have made it big in the United States.
LETITIA WRIGHT (GUYANA)
Letitia Wright is a British actress of Guyanese descent. Her family moved to London when she was seven years old. Her role of Shuri in Marvel’s Black Panther saga, both in the first movie and in its sequel, Wakanda Forever, has given her significant international projection.
Previously, Letitia starred in the “Black Museum” episode of the hit television series Black Mirror. Her performance in it was acclaimed by critics and audiences. In 2018, she had a supporting role in the sci-fi film Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg, and in 2021, she landed the lead role in the television adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel The ABC Murders, playing crime writer Megan Barnard.
ANA DE ARMAS (CUBA)
De Armas made history in 2023, when she became the first Cuban woman to be nominated for an Oscar – in the Best Actress category – for her spectacular performance as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde.
The list of hit films Ana has starred in includes Blade Runner 2049, in which she played Joi, a key character in the plot. This film gave the Cuban actress great visibility in the film industry.
In 2019, she starred in Knives Out, directed by Rian Johnson, along an all-star cast that included Daniel Craig, Chris Evans and Jamie Lee Curtis. She also appeared in No Time to Die, the latest entry in the James Bond franchise, as Paloma, a CIA agent.
Related article: Ten Afro-Cuban Actresses You Must Know
ZOE SALDANA (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC)
Saldana is a very talented actress who has starred in numerous films. One of the highlights of her career has been her role as Neytiri in James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi milestone Avatar.
She also excelled in her role as Gamora, in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Her performance as the alien warrior was highly praised by fans and critics alike.
The Dominican actress has also appeared in the Star Trek franchise, playing Lieutenant Uhura in the J.J. Abrams films, and starred in the action film Colombiana, playing a hitwoman out for revenge.
One of Zoe’s first prominent roles came in the film Center Stage, where she played a dancer and was thus able to demonstrate her talent for both acting and dance.
GINA TORRES (CUBA)
Gina Torres is an American actress with Cuban roots. One of her most memorable roles was as Zoe Washburne, in the science fiction series Firefly.
Torres was also part of the main cast of the hit TV series Suits, in which she played attorney Jessica Pearson. Meanwhile, in the series Hannibal, she played the wife of FBI agent Jack Crawford.
In the movie The Matrix Reloaded, she played Cas, one of the supporting characters. Although her role was not very big, her performance demonstrated her skills for the action and science fiction genres.
CCH POUNDER (GUYANA)
Pounder has had an impressive career in television and film. In the series The Shield, she played Detective Claudette Wyms. Meanwhile, in Avatar, she lent her voice to the character of Mo’at, the spiritual leader of the Na’vi.
Other series she has appeared in include ER, where she played Dr. Angela Hicks, a physician working as head of emergency services; Sons of Anarchy, where she appeared as FBI agent Tyne Patterson and The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
THANDIE NEWTON (RAISED IN JAMAICA)
For her role in the television series Westworld, in which she played Maeve Millay, an android prostitute and hostess who becomes self-aware and fights for her freedom, Newton received an Emmy Award.
Her performance in the film Crash, as Christine, a woman who is the victim of racial assault, was so impressive that it earned her a BAFTA Award.
Additionally, Newton has starred in films such as Beloved, The Pursuit of Happyness and Mission: Impossible 2, where she plays the role of a thief who teams up with agent Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise.
NAOMIE HARRIS (JAMAICA)
This Jamaican-British actress shined in the movie Moonlight, in which she played Paula, the mother of the main character, Chiron, and for which she received an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Supporting Actress.
She was also in the James Bond blockbuster Skyfall, as Agent 007’s field assistant, and in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, as Tia Dalma, a voodoo sorceress. But the role that stands out the most was the one of Winnie Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s second wife, in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
SHERYL LEE RALPH (JAMAICA)
Lee Ralph has had a successful career in theater, film and television. In Dreamgirls she played Deena Jones, one of the lead singers of the R&B group The Dreams. Her performance in that musical earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
Also, in the television series Moesha, Ralph played Dee Mitchell, Moesha’s mother. For that role she received three Image Award nominations for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
TATYANA ALI (PANAMA)
This Panamanian-American actress, singer and model has stood out for her roles in film and television productions.
In the series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, she played Ashley Banks, the younger sister of the lead character played by Will Smith. Her performance in this series earned her three Image Award nominations for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
Ali has also starred in the series Love That Girl!, for which she earned two more Image Award nominations, and The Young and the Restless, which earned her a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
In film, she appeared in Jawbreaker and Mother and Child.