Before Kerry Washington and Viola Davis took over prime time television, there was our beloved Diahann Carroll. She was a legend. She was a trailblazer. Diahann Carroll was Black excellence and, the original fabulous auntie of our generation.
Although she passed on October 4th from breast cancer (which was revealed to the public upon her passing), she left a legacy for our culture as well as for Black women in the television and film industry.
A true pioneer, Carroll paved the way for black actresses with her iconic role in the TV series ‘Julia’, where she was the first Black woman to lead a primetime series in a non-stereotypical role. Instead of portraying a servant or maid – which were usually the only roles offered to Black women at that time – Carroll played a widowed single mother who was a nurse in a doctor’s office at a large aerospace company.
Outside of ‘Julia’, Carroll starred in hit shows like ‘Dynasty’ and her very own ‘The Diahann Carroll Show.’ She was also cast as in the lead role for the hit movie ‘Carmen Jones’ and was the first Black woman to win a Tony Award for best actress for her role in the Broadway musical “No Strings.”
Diahann Carroll truly left her mark on this earth with the amazing characters she filled with depth and poise. Most of all, she left us with life lessons that we can use to make the most of our own lives:
“If you’re not invited to the party, throw your own.”– This quote by Carroll reminds us to not get consumed with the desire to be accepted, but create our own lanes in life and in business.
Always remember who you are– It can be so easy to lose sight of your identity in a world where social media exists. Others have a front row view to our lives and sometimes that comes with unsolicited advice and opinions, but like Carroll, we must adapt poise and recognize that just because we aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, we are to those who matter.
Don’t underestimate your impact on the next person– You inspire people and you don’t even know it. Right now, there is someone who may be looking at your life and hoping that someday, they’ll be able to navigate theirs the same way. Think about it, Carroll paved the way for many Black actresses that we know and love today and when she was breaking barriers, she most likely didn’t even know that she’d soon be the blueprint for those coming behind her. Don’t get too caught up on thinking you have to have it all figured out or together before you have the ability to leave a long-lasting impression on someone. You’re already doing it.
Be intentional.Make sure that everything that you do serves a purpose and really speaks to your character and who you are as a person. Carroll deliberately chose roles that she felt were a perfect fit for her and though she often faced criticism, she did not allow others’ opinions to change her thoughts. Today, we encourage you to do the same. Write down those goals and set every intention to knock them out on your own time despite what some may say. We know that you can do it.