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Sure, Cookie Lyon of Empire and Olivia Pope of Scandal are dominating primetime television, but there are so many other black characters from film and television shows who’ve captured our hearts and commanded our attention. In honor of Black History Month, let’s celebrate 19 characters who made us laugh uncontrollably, cry like a baby, and completely reshaped our lives.

1. Cookie Lyon – ‘Empire’

The witty and outspoken ex-wife of Lucious Lyon won us over as soon as she graced our television screens. Cookie Lyon, played by Taraji P. Henson, is the epitome of a badass who has the street cred to go toe-to-toe with the most hardened criminals, and the brains to form a company of her own called Lyon Dynasty. But there’s more to the character than being the queen bee and feisty ex-con. She has a heart of gold, and at the end of the day, she reminds us that family is everything.

cookie lyon

2. Prince Akeem Joffer – ‘Coming To America’

Prince Akeem Joffer put a new twist on a romantic fairytale. The Coming to America character, played by Eddie Murphy, wasn’t the stereotypical rich royal. He left his lavish digs behind to move to New York City and work at a fast food joint. On a quest to find the perfect wife, he falls in love with Lisa McDowell, but their romance wasn’t going to be an easy journey. The Prince’s true identity was exposed, but it was a blessing in disguise because Lisa ended up marrying him for true love, not for his wealth.

prince akeem

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