Born May 26, 1949, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Pamela Suzette Grier was probably the first movie Action Girl. Any time you see a woman kicking ass in movies, you can thank her. She was voted the second greatest such actress of all time by Rotten Tomatoes (behind Michelle Yeoh).
In the 1970s Grier was an icon of Blaxploitation movies and many of her best-known films belong to that genre.
Notable roles include:
- Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (an extra)
- The Big Doll House
- Women In Cages
- Black Mama, White Mama
- Scream Blacula Scream
- Foxy Brown
- Sheba, Baby
- Friday Foster
- Something Wicked This Way Comes
- Above the Law
- Class of 1999
- Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
- Escape from L.A.
- Mars Attacks!
- Jackie Brown
- Snow Day
- Ghosts of Mars
- The Adventures of Pluto Nash
- Larry Crowne
- The Man with the Iron Fists
Tropes associated with this actress:
- Action Girl: Before Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor codified this trope in movies, Pam Grier pretty much defined it.
- Afro Asskicker: She may very well be the Trope Codifier.
- And Starring: The L Word put its actors' names in the credits in strict alphabetical order... with the exception of the final name: "and Pam Grier as Kit". It presumably helped that Jennifer Beals, its other big-name star, has a name early on in the alphabet.
- Blaxploitation: She and Tamara Dobson became the genre's leading actresses.
- B-Movie: Grier is actually not a bad actress, so it's unfortunate that she has mostly starred in B-movies, except for Jackie Brown.
- Ms. Fanservice: Especially in her early films, she spent a lot of time wearing lingerie, Stripperiffic clothes or no clothes at all.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis: To many people it may seem as if she only made blaxploitation movies, which isn't true. Younger generations may only know her from appearing in Jackie Brown.
- Sassy Black Woman: A common characteristic of most of her parts.
- Silk Hiding Steel: As a trailer for Foxy Brown has it, "She's brown sugar with a touch of spice... and murder if you don't treat her nice."
- Soul Sista: Would you expect anything else when Hollywood's first Action Girl is an African-American woman?
- Took the Bad Film Seriously: A rare positive example. She invoked this regarding her Girls Behind Bars films."They were my sounding board, where I really learned filmmaking. I was working for Roger Corman... and making $500 a day. I was green; I was hungry. These were my first roles so I made them as close to Shakespeare as possible. That's how I approached it and it got me work. The characters stood out. I got recognized."
- The X of Y: The first episode of the YouTube series Missing Reel was titled "Blaxploitation," and ended by talking about Jackie Brown and called her "The Queen of Badass."