He may have been a hardcore hip-hop artist, but even Biggie enjoyed “ladies in the place/with style and grace.” Class is a quality that seems almost old-fashioned in these days of attention whoring and bottle-throwing reality TV catfights. Fortunately, there are still some women in celebrity circles who are well known for their poise, grace, style and elegance. We can’t think of a better example than former “Cosby” show star Phylicia Rashad, who returns to TV in the medical drama “Do No Harm,” http://www.nbc.com/do-no-harm/ premiering on NBC at 10 p.m. on Thursday night. (“Scandal” fans get your DVR’s ready so you can watch both.) We used to say of women like these that they carried themselves well. Here’s a list of the celebs that still do.
She plays a classy chick on TV, and carries that through in real life. Kerry Washington, 35, is a college graduate, political activist and celebrated actress who never plays roles that are degrading or embarrassing. Her fashion choices as both Olivia Pope on “Scandal” (opera gloves anyone?) and in her own life are always stunning. Not a breath of scandal has yet been attached to her name at least in her off-screen life and every actor she’s worked with has nothing but praise for her, maybe because opposite her two of her co-stars – Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker – have won Oscars.
The former “Cosby” show star and sister to the multitalented Debbie Allen is a Howard University graduate whose daughter, Condola, is following in her thespian footsteps. As Claire Huxtable, Rashad became the example for class for an entire generation. She made being a working mother look not just desirable, but easy. As Mrs. Huxtable on TV and as Mrs. Rashad in real life, she’s never said or done anything inappropriate of if so, we’ll never know about it. Even her divorce from former NFL star turned sportscaster Ahmad Rashad over a decade ago was drama-free, at least to the public. At 64, Rashad is as beautiful and composed as ever, still setting an example for others to follow.
The “Good Morning America” host has dealt with breast cancer in front of millions with an unparalleled grace even through the loss of her hair. Last June, she announced she’d be taking a break from the show due to MDS or myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood and bone marrow disease. Despite her illness, Roberts, 52, maintained a positive attitude and a bright smile, once again sharing her recovery with her fans. Throughout her career, Roberts has been a beautiful and positive example of making the best of both her opportunities and setbacks. We heart Roberts not just as a wonderful host and interviewer, but also for her grace under fire.
Some people take their cues from women on reality TV; others take their cues from women like Michelle Obama. She’s a mother and a wife who sacrificed her own career ambitions to hold down her husband and support his dreams all the way to the White House. Obama, 49, has taken to the role of First Lady by providing service to military families and promoting healthy eating and exercise to counter the growing problem of childhood obesity. Oh, and she dresses fabulously too, and will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most stylish First Ladies ever. To those who say she’s no Jackie Kennedy, we agree. She’s her own woman creating her own act to follow and we appreciate her.
Maybe it’s because she’s refreshingly down to earth that Regina King seems to fly under the radar of the top Black actresses. Though she had memorable roles in both “Ray” and in “Jerry Maguire” and is currently starring on the TNT cop drama “Southland,” King, 42, is not as photographed or as talked about as others. But maybe that’s why she’s so classy. She just goes in, does her job to the fullest extent and keeps herself out of the tabloids and off Twitter and the blogs despite quietly dating actor Malcolm Jamal-Warner. We want to give King her well-deserved props if no one else does.
Quick. Think of a female musician who everyone agrees is the poster girl for class, mystery and style. Did Sade come to mind? Yup, we thought so. Who else can take a break for over a decade and come back as though she’d never been away and then mysteriously disappear again? Who else has stayed away from the excesses and turmoil so many other female singers go through and still make great music? Who else barely looks like she’s aged in 20 years, though she’s now 54? Not only do we love Sade’s music and her timeless style, we love how she’s managed to do the music business her way on her time.