Pam Grier (age: 69) is an American actress known for starring in The Big Bird Cage, Coffy, Foxy Brown, Sheba, Baby, Jackie Brown, Miami Vice and The L Word. Director Tarantino remarked that she may have been cinema's first female action star.
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Pam Grier Bio
Pam Grier (born May 26, 1949 as Pamela Suzette Grier) is an American actress. Grier became known in the early 1970s for starring in a string of women in prison and blaxploitation films such as The Big Bird Cage(1972), Coffy (1973), Foxy Brown (1974), and Sheba, Baby (1975). She starred in Quentin Tarantino’s film Jackie Brown, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. She has also been nominated for a SAG Award, as well as a Satellite Award for her performance in Jackie Brown. Grier is also known for her work on television; for six seasons, she portrayed Kate ‘Kit’ Porter on the television series The L Word. She received an Emmy nomination for her work in the animated program Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. Rotten Tomatoes has ranked her as the second-greatest female action heroine in film history. Director Tarantino remarked that she may have been cinema’s first female action star.
Grier moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1967, where she was initially hired as a receptionist at American International Pictures (AIP). She is believed to have been discovered by director Jack Hill, who cast her in his women-in-prison films The Big Doll House (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972). While under contract at AIP, she became a staple of early 1970s blaxploitation movies, playing big, bold, assertive women, beginning with Jack Hill’s Coffy (1973), in which she plays a nurse who seeks revenge on drug dealers. Her character was advertised in the trailer as the “baddest one-chick hit-squad that ever hit town!” The film, which was filled with sexual and violent elements typical of the genre, was a box-office hit. Grier is considered to be the first African-American female to headline an action film, as protagonists of previous blaxploitation films were males. In his review of Coffy, critic Roger Ebert praised the film for its believable female lead. He noted that Grier was an actress of “beautiful face and astonishing form” and that she possessed a kind of “physical life” missing from many other attractive actresses. Grier subsequently played similar characters in the AIP films Foxy Brown(1974), Sheba, Baby, and Friday Foster, (both 1975).
With the demise of blaxploitation later in the 1970s, Grier appeared in smaller roles for many years. She acquired progressively larger character roles in the 1980s, including a druggie prostitute in Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981), a witch in Something Wicked this Way Comes (1983), and Steven Seagal’s detective partner in Above the Law (1988). She had a recurring role on Miami Vice from 1985 to 1989 and made guest appearances on Martin, Night Court, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. She had a recurring role in the TV series Crime Story between 1986 and 1988. Her role in Rocket Gibraltar (1988) was cut due to fears by the film’s director, Daniel Petrie, of “repercussions from interracial love scenes”. She appeared on Sinbad, Preston Chronicles, The Cosby Show, The Wayans Brothers Show, and Mad TV. In 1994, Grier appeared in Snoop Dogg’s video for “Doggy Dogg World”.
In the late 1990s, Grier was a cast member of the Showtime series Linc’s. She appeared in 1996 in John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. and 1997 with the title role in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, films that partly paid homage to her 1970s blaxploitation movies. She was nominated for numerous awards for her work in the Tarantino film. Grier appeared on Showtime’s The L Word, in which she played Kit Porter. The series ran for six seasons and ended in March 2009. Grier occasionally guest-stars in such television series as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (where she is a recurring character).
In 2010, Grier began appearing in a recurring role on the hit science-fiction series Smallville as the villain Amanda Waller, also known as White Queen, head agent of Checkmate, a covert operations agency. She appeared as a friend and colleague to Julia Roberts‘ college professor in 2011’s Larry Crowne.
In 2010, Grier wrote her memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, with Andrea Cagan. In January 2018, Grier revealed a biopic based on her book is in the works titled, Pam.
Grier received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2011. That same year, she received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Langston University.
She started the Pam Grier Community Garden and Education Center with the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum. The purpose is to teach people about organic gardening, health and nutrition among other things.
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