So, I was a bit snarky about the "our lady" thing that's circulating, which is super cool, but super white, except for "Our Lady of Loyalty", Zoe from Firefly.
Of course, on previous occasions, when listing off my favorite female characters, I've tended to produce mostly white lists, too -- because, well, TV is pretty fucking white.
Anyway, that led to speculation regarding how many major character roles there are for non-white actresses on TV, so I decided to check (sort of), using mostly this totally not comprehensive list of US TV shows.
My methodology is not even remotely scientific. For example, I skipped shows I haven't seen (of which there are many, despite what you may have heard re: my omnivorous viewing habits). So this list will reflect my tastes to a large degree. Also, I only went back to around 2000, and like I said, that list isn't comprehensive.
Sassy sidekicks, tough-but-fair bosses, BFFs, and romantic interests mostly not counted, unless they're also significant characters in their own right. Inclusion is somewhat more lenient for ensemble shows where the boundary between minor and major characters can be fuzzy.
Not intentionally omitting actresses that look white, although I have no doubt I'm missing some. (And obviously racism is pretty granular in this context, but you can reach your own conclusions about what phenotypes are most castable in what roles.)
Outsourced is omitted entirely because oh come on.
I've bolded some actresses who play characters who I think would fit well in the "Our Lady" list.
- Deception - Meagan Good
- Mindy Project - Mindy Kaling
- Elementary - Lucy Liu
- Scandal - Kerry Washington
- Being Human - Meaghan Rath
- Fairly Legal - Sarah Shahi
- Chicago Code - Jennifer Beals
- Falling Skies - Moon Bloodgood
- Alphas - Azita Ghanizada
- Up All Night - Maya Rudolph
- Person of Interest - Sarah Shahi (upgraded to series regular next season)
- Justified - Erica Tazel
- Memphis Beat - Alfre Woodard
- Nikita - Maggie Q
- Undercovers - Gugu Mbatha-Raw
- Lie to Me - Monica Raymunad
- Parks & Rec - Rashida Jones
- Warehouse 13 - Note: both Genelle Williams and CCH pounder have roles that are right on the edge of what I would exclude as minor/stock.
- Community - Yvette Nicole Brown
- The Good Wife - Archie Panjabi
- Modern Family - Sofia Vergara
- Stargate Universe - Ming Na
- Middleman - Natalie Morales
- Fringe - Jasika Nicole
- Life- Sarah Shahi
- Day Break - Moon Bloodgood
- Ugly Betty - America Ferrera
- Journeyman - Moon Bloodgood
- Numb3rs - Navi Rawat
- The Office - Mindy Kaling
- Bones - Tamara Taylor, Michaela Conlin
- Night Stalker - Gabrielle Union
- Battlestar Galactica - Grace Park, Kandyse McClure
- Lost - Michelle Rodriguez, Yunjin Kim
- The Wire - Sonja Sohn
- She Spies - Natashia Williams
- Cleopatra 2525 - Gina Torres
- Alias - Merin Dungey, Gina Torres, Mia Maestro
- Scrubs - Judy Reyes
- Dark Angel - Jessica Alba
So, who am I missing?