Is Extant only the SECOND national primetime scripted TV show with an African-American female lead? I'm looking specifically for mainstream networks. To be explicit, BET is not that - talkshow and reality TV isn't it either.

Only other show I can think of is Scandal.

I've noticed that a majority of TV shows have this casting mold:

  1. Older white male
  2. Younger white male / Younger white female
  3. Younger white female/ Younger white male
  4. Minority (used to be African-American, now interchangeable with Asians/Latinos)

I have also noticed the following:

  • Mainstream, primetime shows with a female lead are still a minority.

  • To be sure there ARE some shows that have "a" Afram female protagonist, but they're pretty much token.

  • Ever noticed how African-Americans play authority figures that are completely minor roles? Like judges, doctors? E.g. Tamara Tunny on CSI Miami

  • "The Rush Hour" movies were completely shocking, because there was NO white lead at all.

  • There are a FEW shows with MALE Afram leads, but these hardly ever lasted more than one season, only the Unit comes to mind, and whether Haysbert was the main protagonist is debatable

  • What about "Rogue" with Thandie Newton? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_%28TV_series%29
    – user1426
    Aug 28, 2014 at 16:27
  • Dang, you're right. We could nitpick and say that she's half-white, but then again, Halle, and under Jim Crow, she'd be lynched like the rest of us ... ;) Thanks, i'm downloading it now. Unlike Cult, it's a real lead, and she IS an exceptional actress, better than Halle, but not better than Viola Davis. Aug 28, 2014 at 17:06
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    Why not make Rogue an answer? Aug 28, 2014 at 17:13
  • 1
    How would you figure in ensemble shows where, for the most part, everyone is the same and individuals gain or lose screen time depending on how the story lines progress? (i.e. Southland, which didn't have a 'lead' per se, but did have two African American detectives partnered, with the female easily considered a primary in multiple storylines)
    – CGCampbell
    Aug 28, 2014 at 17:15
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    How about Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek (1966): "She gained popular recognition by being one of the first black women featured in a major television series not portraying a servant." - Or a more recent example: Nicole Beharie, the female lead of Sleepy Hollow.
    – Oliver_C
    Aug 28, 2014 at 18:49

2 Answers 2


As early as 1974 on the ABC network, there was a show called Get Christy Love!, with Teresa Graves as the lead. The Wikipedia article sources Jet, a magazine devoted to African American performers and artists, and her profile in the Nov 1974 issue names no preceding black television lead actress, which it probably would have.


Somehow, I missed the 2013 show Deception, with Meagan Goode, which makes Extant the fourth show of this kind.

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