Top 5 Black Female Characters From Sci-Fi/Horror
These female characters changed film forever.
Science fiction and horror are two genres that mix well. Ridley Scott’s Alien is probably the best proof of that. But, that movie is also an example of how a strong female lead can do wonders, even in a setting that is often perceived to be too harsh for female characters. Alien's Ellen Ripley set the tone for many cinematic heroines with her amazing performances, making her the base of inspiration for this article.
To show you how female characters can make a difference in films, we've composed a list of the top five Black female characters from science-fiction and horror movies. These great characters have destroyed various stereotypes and have been highly influential on the science fiction and horror genre. We’ll introduce each of the characters individually and tell you what movie they’re from, as well as what makes them so inspiring and influential.
1. Adelaide Wilson / Red from Us
Lupita Nyong’o is a great actress, that much is obvious, but her dual performance in Jordan Peele’s Us is arguably her best one so far. The young actress appears both as the film’s main heroine, Adelaide Wilson, and villainess, Red, in a role that both amazed us and scared us, even if we don’t consider the film’s incredible twist. This role has everything you’d want from it - it’s shocking, convincing, powerful, empowering, and authentic in every way possible.
Peele did a great job in writing these two characters and Nyong’o went on to realize the idea perfectly. Adelaide Wilson showed us the good side, the heroic fight for one's own survival and for the survival of one’s family, while Red showed us how effective a scene-stealer you can be with simple mimics and a slightly distorted voice. This role is, in our opinion, the best one on this list, and that's why we decided to start it off with this character.
2. Alexa Woods from Alien vs. Predator
The Alien franchise is quite well-known among science-fiction fans, as is the Predator franchise, although the former is practically the most important work in the genre of science-fiction and horror, surpassing Predator’s influence in every category. But, in 2004, Alien and Predator clashed in the Alien vs. Predator movie and we actually got a chance to see how the two extraterrestrials would do in a mutual fight.
While the plot of the movie might be interesting, it’s not the reason we’re mentioning it; the actual reason is the character of Alexa Woods, the female lead of the movie and a character that turned out to be a perfect replacement for Ellen Ripley. Woods was such a powerful character to watch and a character that simply amazed us with her authenticity. Wherever she went, we followed, and when she actually chose a side, we blindly followed because we knew it was the right decision. Sanaa Lathan deserves every word of praise directed towards her for this empowering performance.
3. Katrina from Vamp
Now, this movie and role might be quite obscure to those that are not overly familiar with the genre, but Vamp is a cult classic of the science fiction and horror genre. Although you’ll probably better know it as a panned flop, the movie has some interesting aspects that merit a look into this campy wonder. Katrina is a vampire/dancer who kills horny fraternity boys, which is befitting of the movie’s premise, but what interests us more is the interpretation of Grace Jones.
Grace Jones is a well-known singer and actress, whose cinematic outings, regardless of the movie, always attracted attention. The role of Katrina has depth, the costume and make-up were simply amazing, and her dance is one of the rare elements of this movie that actually received some praise. Grace Jones was a truly talented performer, both on stage and on the screen, so it’s only natural that we opted for her inclusion on this list, regardless of the fact that Katrina is actually a villain.
4. Miranda Grey from Gothika
Gothika is one of those strangely weird movies you’ll either love or hate; there’s really no in-between with this movie. But, regardless of whether you like this ghost movie or not, you cannot argue that Halle Berry’s performance as Miranda Grey was absolutely astonishing. Berry plays a women’s prison psychiatrist who ends up in a women’s prison on the charges that she has murdered her husband.
Plagued by the accusations and her own slowly deteriorating psyche, Miranda has to face her demons in this gritty setting that questions the very fabric of reality as we know it. Now, the biggest uptake from this movie is Berry’s amazing performance. The Oscar-winning actress has truly given her all here, showing just how powerful of an actress she is, and although the role was a pretty grim one, it was still empowering enough to land a place on this list as one of the best Black female performances of the whole genre.
5. Rita Veder from Vampire in Brooklyn
Wes Craven is, as we know very well, a master of the horror genre, but with Vampire in Brooklyn, he has also demonstrated that he has a very strong funny bone in his body. With a predominantly Black cast, Vampire in Brooklyn re-examines the Dracula myth in contemporary New York, starring comedy legend Eddie Murphy as Dracula, alongside Angela Basset’s detective Rita Veder.
Detective Veder is Dracula’s love interest, but she's no damsel in distress. Veder is a powerful woman of color that is able to hold her own in this campy and hilarious gem of a movie. Angela Basset, a role model for so many Black women out there, has once again put in an empowering and persuasive performance that showed not only the scope of her talents but also the greatness of her character.
We Want to Hear From You
What do you think has been the greatest Black female role in sci-fi/horror history?