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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Rep. Waters Statement on the Death of Diahann Carroll

October 7, 2019
Press Release

Rep. Waters Statement on the Death of Diahann Carroll

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) issued a statement on the death of Diahann Carroll:

“I am saddened by the death of my friend, Diahann Carroll, whose extraordinary talent, stunning beauty, and passionate activism blazed a path in Hollywood and on Broadway for future generations of African American entertainers. Diahann Carroll’s elegance, eloquence, and brilliance challenged the status quo and redefined the conventional wisdom about the roles and success that African American women could have in television and film. As a result, she was, and always will be, considered one of the most iconic women in entertainment history.

“Whether on stage or the big screen, Diahann Carroll’s talent knew no bounds. She was the first African American woman to win a Tony Award for best actress for her role in the musical ‘No Strings;’ earned an Academy Award nomination for her role in the film ‘Claudine;’ played the first major African American character, Dominique Deveraux, in a primetime soap opera, ABC’s ‘Dynasty’; and made history as the star of NBC’s ‘Julia’ – the first American television show to portray the life of an African American woman who was not a maid or servant. This groundbreaking role and show – which ranked seventh on the Nielsen charts in its first season – not only earned Diahann Carroll an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe Award, but also proved to the world the success that such shows and roles starring Black women could have on television. Throughout her nearly seven decades-long career, Diahann Carroll continued to shine on the silver screen, starring alongside fellow legendary actors such as Sidney Portier and James Earl Jones, and earning a spot on the coveted TV Academy Hall of Fame for her roles in numerous popular televised series such as ‘A Different World’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ However, despite her success and national recognition, Diahann Carroll was constantly faced with what she referred to as the ‘horror of discrimination,’ and she used her national prominence to raise awareness for the plight of African American entertainers in media interviews and in a testimony before the United States Congress.

“Diahann Carroll will always be remembered not only for her talent, poise, wit, and beauty, but also for her resilience and courage. She defied every stereotype, refused to be typecast or placed in a box, and open doors for the diversity of roles and casting that we see today in Hollywood. I join millions of fans around the world in mourning the loss of this iconic and legendary pioneer, and I extend my deepest sympathies to her daughter, grandchildren, relatives, and friends.”

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