Pam Grier

Actress Pam Grier was a 1970s pop culture icon thanks to a string of roles as tough and sexy heroines in such blaxploitation classics as "Coffy" (1973), "Foxy Brown" (1974) and "Sheba, Baby" (1975). A statuesque figure who radiated confidence and determination, she surpassed the conventions of the genre to establish herself as the first black female action hero and box office draw. A revival of interest thanks to the home video boom brought her back to films in the '80s and '90s. Unabashed fan Quentin Tarantino paid homage to her screen persona with "Jackie Brown" (1997), which led to a long-overdue career boost; she was soon tackling substantive roles in the Showtime series "The L Word" (2004-09) and reaping the rewards of a career forged in hard work and determination. She remained an enduring symbol of female empowerment at its funkiest and most ferocious.