- “I really believe that what I do as an actress is my God-given talent. This is my calling…not my career. And I appreciate it.”
- “If my Heavenly Father held my hand, my brother Larry had my back.”—AB in her 1994 Image Award acceptance speech.
- “Beauty comes from your soul, and once you get your soul intact, it just emanates from you.”—Angela Bassett
- “I love it when he beats me!”—Angela joking about working with Laurence Fishburne.
- “You’ve got to guard the heart and the spirit diligently.”—Angela on why she does not take just any movie role.
- “You just have to live and laugh—joy looks great on everybody.”—Angela Bassett
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Bassett was born in New York city on August 16, 1958, then relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, as a child. She and her sister D’nette were raised by their social worker mother, Betty. As a young child, her interest in entertaining developed, as she and her sister would often put on shows, reading poems or performing popular music for their family. At “Boca Ciega High School”, Bassett was a member of the debate team, student government, drama club, choir, and was a cheerleader.
Bassett attended Yale University and received her B.A. in African-American studies in 1980. In 1983, she earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Yale School of Drama. At Yale, Bassett met her future husband Courtney B. Vance, a 1986 graduate of the drama school. After graduation, Bassett worked as a receptionist for a beauty salon and as a photo researcher.
She soon looked for acting work in New York theater. One of her first New York performances came in 1985 when she appeared in J.E. Franklin’s Black Girl at Second Stage Theatre. She appeared in two August Wilson plays at the Yale Repertory Theatre under the direction of her long-time instructor Lloyd Richards. The Wilson plays featuring Bassett were Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1984) and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1986).
She is currently a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the United States.