By DIANE XAVIER, CHARITY CHUKWU, SELENA SEABROOKS and ROBYN H. JIMENEZ
The Dallas Examiner
Roxie Roker and Lenny Kravitz
Roxie Albertha Roker is a famous actress who starred in The Jefferson’s as Helen Willis. The show aired from 1975-1985. The show also featured Roker as having one half of the first Caucasian-African American interracial couple in a prime-time TV show.
A graduate of Howard University, Roker starred in many television series, films and movies. She also worked in the media as a television host and reporter.
She began her acting career with the Negro Ensemble Company in the 1970s. She earned an Obie Award and a Tony Award for her performances.
She had roles in 12 films including Roots, Fantasy Island and two ABC Afterschool Specials. Her last movie Penny Ante: The Motion Picture, which aired in 1990.
In real life, she was also in an interracial relationship when she married Sy Kravitz, a White television producer, and they had a son named Lenny Kravitz.
She died Dec. 2, 1995, due to breast cancer.
Lenny Kravitz is a famous Grammy award winning musician who is known for his rock, blues, soul and R&B music.
Kravitz was born in New York City on May 26, 1964. He is the only child of actress Roxie Roker. He is the second cousin of meteorologist Al Roker.
He began his singing career early at the encouragement of his mother. Kravitz joined the California Boys Choir and sang for three years with them along with singing for the Metropolitan Opera.
He was introduced to rock music during his teenage years. He is famous for songs such as Fly Away and American Woman. His most recent album is Let Love Rule.
He’s acted and appeared in several movies, including The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and a few TV shows, including The Simpsons.
Kravitz married former Cosby show actress Lisa Bonet in 1987 and they both have a child named Zoe Kravitz. They divorced in 1993.
He won four straight Grammy awards from 1999-2002. He has also won several other awards, including the TV Video Music Awards and Billboard Music Video Awards, as well as a few international awards.
Sources: Encyclopedia.com, The Modesto Bee, LennyKravitz.com and Ancestry.com
Diana Ross and Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross is known as the famed actress from popular shows such as Girlfriends and Black-ish, but she is also the daughter of the iconic singer Diana Ross and music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein.
Pop singer and songwriter Diana Ross was born Diane Earle in Detroit, Michigan, on March 26, 1944. She started her music career in 1959 as part of an all-girl music group with her friends Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard called the Primettes. They signed with Motown and were renamed the Supremes. They later became one of the recording company’s biggest acts in the 1960s. The group earned 12 No. 1 hit singles, including Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love, Stop! In the Name of Love and Love Child.
She went on to start a solo music, film, television and stage career after leaving the Supremes in the 1970s. Some of her solo No. 1 hit singles include Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I’m Still Waiting, Theme From Mahogany, and the duet Endless Love with Lionel Richie from the Commodores. Some of the memorable films she starred in include Lady Sings the Blues in 1972, Mahogany in 1975 and The Wiz in 1978.
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as a member of the Supremes and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammy’s in 2012. Throughout her career she also earned a Tony Award and a Golden Globe as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
Tracee Ellis Ross
On Oct. 29, 1972, in Los Angeles, California, Diana Ross gave birth to Tracee Ellis Ross.
She attended Brown University and earned a bachelor’s degree in theater arts in 1994. After graduation, she worked in the fashion industry as an editor for magazines such as Mirabella and New York. Her work in the fashion industry led her to transition into modeling. She was featured on the covers of magazine such as Essence and Jet.
She had a few minor acting roles in movies in the late 1990s but caught her big break when she was cast in the part of attorney Joan Clayton on the TV series Girlfriends in 2000. The show ran for eight seasons and was a ratings success. While on the show, she garnered seven NAACP Image Award nominations, winning two, and won a BET Comedy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
In 2014, she became another regular on primetime TV as a star on comedy Black-ish where she played successful physician Dr. Rainbow Johnson opposite Anthony Anderson, who played her husband Dre. Together they raise five children as an upper-class African American family. The show also ran for eight seasons earning her multiple awards including two NAACP Image Awards, a Critics’ Choice Television Award and a Golden Globe Award.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as Tracee Ellis Ross followed Diana Ross along a similar career path and even credited her as one of the main reasons for her success in an interview with Ebony in 2012.
“My mom is one of the greatest moms and so supportive of all my siblings and of all of us being who we are, and not who she wanted us to be. I’m extremely blessed to have the extraordinary mother that I have, and I don’t mean Diana Ross, I mean the mother,” Tracee Ellis Ross said.
Sources: Britannica.com, Biography.com, Ebony.com
Lisa Bonet and Zoe Kravitz
“There were so many things I didn’t want to pass on to Zoe, so I really made a decision to change into a better person,” Lisa Bonet told a magazine in 2000 about her daughter, Zoë Isabella Kravitz.
Born on Nov. 16, 1967, in San Francisco, California, actress Bonet is known for her breakout role as Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show. She later crossed over and starred in the show’s spinoff, A Different World. Other major projects include Enemy of the State in 1998, High Fidelity in 2000, Biker Boyz in 2003, Whitepaddy in 2006 and the television show Life on Mars in 2008.
Bonet was born to an African American father, Allen, and a Jewish mother, Arlene, who parted ways when Bonet was a baby. It wasn’t easy being raised as a biracial child.
“The world wasn’t ready for what I represented, the merging of these two races … I didn’t always feel welcome in my mom’s family, in my school. So, I sheltered myself by always withholding a fit, because I didn’t always feel safe,” Bonet said during a 2018 interview.
In November 1987, Bonet married musician Lenny Kravitz and gave birth to daughter, Zoe Kravitz, on Dec. 1, 1988. The couple later divorced in 1993.
From a young age, Zoe Kravitz knew that she wanted to be an actress. At the age of 15, Kravitz landed her debut role in the movie No Reservations in 2007. But her career took off with the films X-Men: First Class in 2011, Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015 and the television series Big Little Lies. She also starred in and executive produced the series High Fidelity, in which her mother also appeared, and provided Mary Jane’s voice in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in 2018. In addition to acting, Kravitz is also a musician, writer and director.
“My parents didn’t become who they are because anything was handed to them, and they didn’t raise a child who expected something to be handed to her either,” Kravitz said in a 2016 interview.
Jada, Adrienne and Willow
Actress Jada Koren Pinkett Smith, her mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris and daughter Willow Camille Reign Smith have joined together their years of wisdom, knowledge and skill for banter to co-host Red Table Talk, a social media only talk show.
The grandmother-mother-daughter team use the platform to have an open dialogue about a wide variety of life issues with a wide range of guests, from celebrity artists to community leaders. However, someone of the family members’ deepest issues have been unpacked during the show.
The show has garnered 13 award nominations and won an NAACP Image Award and a Daytime Emmy Award for Red Table Talk.
Banfield-Norris, who brings her old school style to the show, revealed that she began dating Robsol Pinkett Jr. in high school and became pregnant. She married her boyfriend and gave birth to Pinkett Smith at age 15. The two later divorced. She went on to become a nurse.
Around 18 or 19 years old, she became addicted to drugs – mainly heroin – for about 20 years. As of December 2021, she has been sober for 31 years.
In 2010, she played Woman from Detroit in the remake of Karate Kid, in which her grandson, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith had a major role. In 2016, she portrayed herself, as Pinkett Smith’s mother, in Bad Moms.
Actress Pinkett Smith is the most famous of the trio and glue that brings everyone together.
She was born on Sept. 18, 1971, in Baltimore, Maryland. As a teenager, she attended the Baltimore School of the Arts. One of her classmates was the rap artist Tupac Shakur. The two became close friends, even as they rose to fame.
She started her acting career in 1990 on the TV show, True Colors – followed by minor roles on a few other shows – but got her first big break in acting in 1991 when she was cast on A Different World. But it was her role in Menace II Society that catapulted her career in 1993. After that she performed in box office hits Jason’s Lyric, Set it Off, The Nutty Professor and Scream 2.
In 1997, she married world renown actor and rapper Will Smith on New Year’s Eve. Between movies, she had her first child, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith on July 8, 1998, and then her second child, Willow Camille Reign, on Oct. 31, 2000.
In 2001, she portrayed Muhammad Ali’s first wife, Sonji, in the biopic Ali, starring Will Smith.
She made her directing and writing debut with the 2008 independent film, The Human Contract.
In 2009, Pinkett Smith played the chief nursing officer in the TV series Hawthorn, in which she was also the executive producer. She won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series.
May 2018, Pinkett Smith launched Red Table Talk on Facebook Watch with her mother and daughter. That year, she used her knew platform to reveal her own personal stories and battles. She has talked several times about hair loss due to alopecia and eventually began shaving her head almost bald. She also revealed her struggle to overcome depression.
She has acted in over 30 films and TV shows, including Bad Moms and Girls Trip. She has won six awards for her performances and shows, including an MTV Trailblazer Award and two NAACP Image Awards.
Willow Camille Reign Smith – who sometimes goes by WILLOW – is the youngest of the group who brings the new school vibe to the table. She has followed in her parents’ footsteps as a singer and actress. She made her acting debut with her role in I Am Legend, starring her father Will Smith, in 2007.
She brought teenage girls to their feet with her first single, Whip My Hair, in 2010. The platinum album reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video was nominated for Video of the Year at the BET Awards of 2011. Mentored by Jay-Z, she soon became the youngest artist to be signed to Roc Nation. She has a total of four albums and one collaborative album.
Her most recent filming was for the voice of Unica on We Baby Bears.
She has won several awards, including a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding New Artist and Outstanding Music Video in 2010. She was most recently nominated for the Best New Alternative Artist during the iHeartRadio Music Awards in March.
In May 2021, the trio chose to get tattoos together of a lotus bud, a blooming lotus and a fully bloomed lotus, representing them in their varying stages of life.
Source: Red Table Talk, Biography.com, BillBoard.com, Facebook, Instagram