This week's Bella Donna is one of the biggest stars of '70s cinema, Pam Grier. Her career began in blaxploitation films such as Foxy Brown and Coffy, in which she played some of the genre's first strong, take-no-guff female characters. Film critic Roger Ebert hailed her " beautiful face and astonishing form," and in 1975, she became the first black woman to appear on the cover of Ms. magazine. In the '90s, a new generation of fans loved her in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown; these days, she plays Kit on The L Word.
Grier's career started shortly after the rise of the Black is Beautiful movement, which paralleled the civil rights movement by encouraging African-Americans to celebrate their features. The Afro hairstyle was iconic throughout the '70s, but it was usually associated with the activist movement alone. But when Grier wore hers, the Afro was part of a sex-symbol look. Although she no longer wears that hairstyle, Grier's age-appropriate style and class-act composure make hers a beauty that endures. To see a gallery of Pam Grier throughout the years, just read more