Angela Evelyn Bassett (born August 16, 1958) is an American actress. She has become well known for her biographical film roles portraying real life women in African American culture, including singer Tina Turner in the motion picture What's Love Got to Do with It, as well as Betty Shabazz in the films Malcolm X and Panther, Rosa Parks in the The Rosa Parks Story, Katherine Jackson in the miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream and Voletta Wallace in the film Notorious.
Bassett was born in Harlem, the daughter of Betty Jane and Daniel Benjamin Bassett. After her parents' separation, she relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she and her sister D'nette were raised by their social worker/civil servant mother. As her interest in entertainment developed, Angela and her sister would often put on shows, reading poems or performing popular music for their family. At Boca Ciega High School, Bassett was a cheerleader and a member of the debate team, student government, drama club and choir.
Bassett attended Yale University and received her B.A. degree in African-American studies in 1980. In 1983, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama. At Yale, Bassett met her future husband Courtney B. Vance, a 1986 graduate of the drama school. After graduation, Bassett worked as a receptionist for a beauty salon and as a photo researcher.