WCW: Angela Bassett


Angela Bassett: stunningly beautiful, immensely talented. I’ve loved her since 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It and 1995’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Let’s appreciate her historical filmography!


Tour of Duty (1989)

A TV series set during the Vietnam War. Basset was in two episodes as “Lt. Camilla Patterson.”

1989 Tour of Duty


Malcolm X (1992)

As Betty Shabazz, the wife of the legendary Civil Rights leader in this 1960s-set biopic.

1992 Malcolm X 1992 Malcolm X


The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992)

As Katherine Jackson, mother to Michael and all the rest of the Jackson children, in this TV biopic.

1992 The Jacksons- An American Dream


What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993)

As Tina Turner, from her start as a singer in the 1960s through her resurgence in the 1980s.

1993 What's Love Got to Do With It

The matching coat!

1993 What's Love Got to Do With It
1993 What's Love Got to Do with It

Dammit, Ike Turner is so awful but I find Laurence Fishburne SO sexy in this!

1993 What's Love Got to Do With It

Love that blouse!

1993 What's Love Got to Do with It


Panther (1995)

Again playing Betty Shabazz in this semi-fictionalized story of the Black Panther Party.

1995 Panther


Ruby’s Bucket of Blood (2001)

“A Louisiana juke joint owner loses her star entertainer and hires a white singer to fill in,” per IMDB.

2001 Ruby's Bucket of Blood

Iconic housedress on the right.

2001 Ruby's Bucket of Blood


The Rosa Parks Story (2002)

As legendary civil rights activist Rosa Parks!

2002 The Rosa Parks Story Cicely Tyson, The Rosa Parks Story (2002)


Betty and Coretta (2013)

This time playing Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, while Mary J. Blige played Betty Shabazz.

2013 Betty and Coretta 2013 Betty and Coretta 2013 Betty and Coretta


American Horror Story (2013-18)

Jaw-droppingly good as real life New Orleans practitioner of Voodoo, herbalist, and midwife in the “Coven” season; she was also in later seasons, at least one of which is set in the 1950s, from what I can tell from images!

2013-18 American Horror Story

Such great colors!

2013-18 American Horror Story

Love the tignon (the head scarf).

2013-18 American Horror Story

I’m not sure if this is technically a costume from the series, but it was too glam not to include!

2013-18 American Horror Story
2013-18 American Horror Story

Obviously I didn’t stick around for whichever season this was | CR: Michele K. Short/FX

2013-18 American Horror Story

But Bassett looks so good in that short, curly 1950s do!


Close to the Enemy (2016)

A British miniseries set just after World War II.

2016 Close to the Enemy

I love that color green on her!

2016 Close to the Enemy


Underground (2017)

As a midwife in one episode of this story of the Underground Railroad.

2017 Underground 2017 Underground


What’s your favorite Angela Bassett frock flick role?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

9 Responses

  1. Frances Germeshausen

    Does she ever age? The benefit of good cheekbones, I guess.

    • AnnaKarenina

      Some people are just aging so well. You can tell, she‘ll look great in 30 years from now: face, body, attitude. All so fine.

  2. M.E. Lawrence

    That scene of Tina letting loose in a club for the first time is one of my very favorites. In fact, the whole movie is much better than most entertainer bio-pics. (Good costumes, too, but that goes without saying where T.T. is concerned.)

    • SarahV

      This! And when her sister’s jaw literally drops. That’s an iconic moment for sure.

  3. Susan Pola Staples

    Favourite is tied between Malcolm X, Betty & Coretta, and What’s Love… But She makes an awesome Wakandan Queen.

  4. Badalice

    Those last shots from American Horror Story: Freakshow were set in Florida in the 1959s. Angela’s character was in the freak show because she had 3 breasts (!) but she was beautifully dressed. Frances McDormand as a crazy socialite also had some gorgeous period looks.

    • Colleen

      I watched that season, and don’t remember her, which is tragic.

  5. Lily Lotus Rose

    Oh…without a doubt, my fave of her historical roles is as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It. And, how have I NEVER heard of Betty and Coretta?!?! Angela Bassett is STUNNINGLY beautiful!!!! Even if a costume designer dressed her in a burlap sack, she’d make that look good, too!!