Success doesn’t always come when we want it to, but when we’re actually ready for it.
Despite the stories we see about tech entrepreneurs or athletes making it big at 20 years old, success doesn’t happen overnight for most. In fact, for someone who seems like an overnight success, it’s safe to say they’ve been working hard for the past 10 years to get where they are.
We’ve become so accustomed to thinking that if we do not have our lives figured out by the time we enter college, then we’re already behind. But it’s important that we don’t panic when we feel a quarter-life crisis coming on, and realize it’s ok to live life at our own pace.
Ten successful Black women who got their big breaks later in life
1. Taraji P. Henson
Henson has been acting for virtually her entire life and we now see her getting the credit she deserves playing Cookie on Empire. But she wasn’t always starring on a hit TV show, she didn’t get her big break in acting until she hit her 30’s.
2. Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison is currently a professor Emeritus at Princeton University and is known as one of the greatest American Novelists. But for Morrison, it wasn’t until she was 39 that she actually published her first novel. It also wasn’t until later in life that she won a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer for her book Beloved, later made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey.
3. Joy-Ann Reid
Joy-Ann Reid wasn’t always the well-known political commentator and correspondent we know her as today. Before she was the host of “The Reid Report” on MSNBC, she was the managing editor for TheGrio.com and freelance columnist for The Miami Herald.
4. Melissa Harris-Perry
Melissa Harris-Perry wasn’t reporting on television right out of college but got her chance to host her own show on MSNBC later in her life. After hosting “Melissa Harris-Perry” on weekend mornings for MSNBC from 2012-2016, she joined Elle Magazine as their editor-at-large amongst holding other positions.
5. Oprah Winfrey
“Oprah wasn’t built in a day” is now a common phrase we hear when talking about building a successful career or business, and it’s very true. Winfrey didn’t get began to transform into the mogul we know today until she started hosting The Oprah Winfrey show at age 32.
6. Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o has been acting for about 10 years now but it wasn’t until she starred in the popular film 12 Years a Slave at age 31, that the world really got to know her.
7. Phylicia Rashad
Rashad was making a name for herself on Broadway before she become one of America’s favorite sitcom moms. But in 1984 she landed her breakout role, as Claire Huxtable in The Cosby Show at age 36.
8. Ava DuVernay
After years of running her successful public relations firm, DuVernay decided to make the leap from PR to film and its been history ever since. After first picking up the camera at 33, she debuted her first documentary at age 35 and then went on to direct Selma in 2014, at age 42.
9. Kerry Washington
Some of us know Washington from her early days in films like Save the Last Dance and shows such as Psych, but it wasn’t until she was 35 that she became Olivia Pope on Scandal, and her career took off.
10. Viola Davis
Although, Davis was already a very accomplished actress before she landed her lead role in How to Get Away With Murder but it was that gig that also helped her win an Emmy Award at age 49. Davis is now the first African-American to receive the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama, and is paving the way for future Black actresses.
Which Black women inspire you to keep going despite your age or circumstance?