Black Boss Lady
has a new case for you, gumshoe.
There appears to be a growing trend for making the Da Chief
the polar opposite of the old, white man he always was in the past. There's a new boss in town, okay? And the Cowboy Cop
, or whatever smart-alec subordinate she has better watch out, because she ain't putting up with any of his crap.
The Black Boss Lady is characterized by being a Twofer Token Minority
, both a woman and Black, in charge of probably mostly men in a stereotypically male profession. Right there, you know she's a badass because she must be so good at her job, that even any discrimination which might have been in her way due to either her femininity or her minority status was bulldozed flat in two-point-five seconds by her incredible competency.
Because the Black Boss Lady is good
, or she wouldn't be where she is today. She's not afraid to take some risk if there is a decent chance of a worthwhile pay off. She presides over her organization with an iron fist, but she's also a Reasonable Authority Figure
, and will give the Cowboy Cop
(or lawyer, or reporter, etc.) credit where it's due. At first she might seem like a hardass by-the-book type
but inevitably they get used to each other, she reveals hidden depths, and the two give each other room to work and come to appreciate the other's strength.
When it comes to drama, her blackness is hardly ever mentioned, her femaleness being the main source of plot. This being so she won't have much of an Urban Accent
or have many tropes stereotypically associated with blackness. She almost never slips into Sassy Black Woman
, for instance. She's also usually very well-dressed, in a business skirt-suit or slacks (nothing even remotely risque), and it's not uncommon for her clothes to be somewhat masculine. Often she has managed to have her cake and eat it too (mostly) in that she has both a shining career and a family.
One could reasonably consider the Black Boss Lady to be the Distaff Counterpart
to the Bald Black Leader Guy
, though the main things they have in common are being black and being leaders (though there's technically nothing in the trope that excludes her from being bald
too). Is also a subtrope of Da Chief
, most of the time, though this trope isn't restricted to situations were she actually is Da Chief, she just needs to be the boss of whatever organization she's running.
- Amanda Waller, in DC Comics' ARGUS, Cadmus, Suicide Squad, and related organizations, is widely recognized as one of the few people who can make Batman think twice about messing with her. Heck, she's taken on Granny Goodness (Apocalypse goddess of abduction and right-hand woman to Darkseid) and walked away.
- In the comic book version of Wanted Wesley's emasculating boss is a black woman.
- Psiren, the leader of Psi-Cops from Marvel Comics's Warlock.
- Dominique, the only black character in Scott Pilgrim, is the boss at Steven Stills, and later the title character's day job.
- Clark's editor on The New Yorker in Superman: Secret Identity.
- As noted above, Amanda Waller—played by Viola Davis—is the boss of the Suicide Squad (2016), a group of supervillians she assembles to do the government's dirty work in exchange for their freedom. If they don't obey her, she activates the bombs planted in their heads.
- Appears in the Paul Verhoeven Starship Troopers film. Sky Marshal Dienes, a middle aged white male, is replaced by Sky Marshal Tahat Meru, a Hawaiian. Her attitude and general demeanour speaks to this trope.
- Knight and Day: Isabel George, the CIA's Director of Counter-Intelligence fits this trope as she is DaChief, is impeccably dressed, and is a bit of a hardass. At the end of the movie, she explains to Miller (Tom Cruise), who is restrained in a hospital bed, that the agency will "transfer you to a secure facility tomorrow... for your safety". He stated earlier in the film that when agents say this to you it means that they plan to kill you.
- In 1986, audiences applauded when the captain of the USS Saratoga was revealed to be a black woman (played by Madge Sinclair) in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
- She also played Captain Silva La Forge, mother of Geordi.
- The Chief Judge in Dredd, whose meetings with the title character bookend the movie.
- Chief from Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego (live-action), currently the image provider. Actress Lynne Thigpen was quite good at playing no-nonsense authoritarian types in general.
- Madeleine Hightower, the second boss the fictional CBI (California Bureau of Investigation) receives in The Mentalist.
- The Steve Harvey Show had Regina Grier as principal of the school the other main characters worked at or attended. Her secretary even frequently called her "boss lady".
- Colleen Manus, Regional Director for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida's state police, in The Glades.
- Lt. Tanya Rice, head of Dwight's Memphis city police squad in Memphis Beat.
- Jessica Pearson, Harvey's boss and founder of the law firm in Suits.
- Lieutenant Van Buren, for many years Da Chief in Law & Order. Gets extra bonus points for being a full head shorter than every one of her detectives and still commanding their respect.
- Lieutnant Laguerta in Dexter also fits the trope in everything except actually being African-American (she's afro-cuban though, so still black). At the start of Season 2, however, she was once demoted in favour of a female Haitian-American officer who proved unable to handle the job because of difficulties in her love life, which is something of a subversion.
- Also in Detroit 187. This seems also to be common in situations involving social workers.
- Downplayed by Helen from Drake & Josh, who is black, female, and the manager of the movie theater where Josh works, but is fairly incompetent and, even during her flashes of brilliance, consistently The Ditz.
- Camille Saroyan from Bones
- Roz from Raising the Bar, who is the cool, calm and collected head of the PD's office and serves as a contrast to Balco
- Mrs. Frederick from Warehouse 13.
- Victoria "Iron" Gates is The Umbridge in Castle after the death of Captain Montgomery. She's not as bad as she seems, though.
- A lot of characters on ER answer to Dr. Angela Hicks.
- The last season had Catherine Banfield.
- Noah's Arc: Brandy.
- Heylia James from Weeds definitely qualifies too.
- Captain Claudette Wyms from The Shield.
- There have been a number of black lady admirals and high-ranking officers on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- America's Next Top Model is created and produced by Tyra Banks. She also serves as The Host and one of the show's resident judge.
- Scandal: Olivia.
- Sons of Anarchy: The DA. She typically hides her natural hair underneath a straight-haired wig, but removes the wig when it's time to throw down.
- Doctor Who: The classic series has Brigadier Winifred Bambera and the new series has Captain Erisa Magambo, both high-ranking UNIT officers.
- And now the nameless Time Lord general, after her regeneration in Hell Bent. She rocks a bald head, however.
- Gotham: Capt. Sarah Essen, GCPD: The Captain of the Gotham City Police Department homicide squad and the boss of James Gordon and Harvey Bullock. At the beginning of season 2 she is promoted to Commissioner. Also Maria Mercedes "Fish" Mooney, a nightclub owner and mobster who leads a gang.
- Forever: Lieutenant Joanna Reece, Martinez' and Hanson's commanding officer at the 11th Precinct. Her culture and childhood come up in one episode about the true authorship of a jazz standard.
- Blindspot: Assistant Director Mayfair, the FBI higher-up with a mysterious past in charge of Agent Kurt Weller's team.
- Ms Janine Davies, the Human Resources Manager who is tasked with calling the boys at Caltech to order, speaking very plainly to them about behavioural lapses, and handing out disciplinary sanctions, in The Big Bang Theory.
- This is getting pretty common in some parts of the U.S. Many black women have to be both the major breadwinner and head of household for their families, and have discovered that this can be good training for management positions. Case in point: Washington, D.C., which is a majority African-American city, and which in consequence naturally has a large black component in the federal civil service, the city's largest employer, including supervisory positions.