Captivating, gifted, and sensational, Angela Bassett's presence has been felt in theaters and on stages and television screens throughout the world. Angela Evelyn Bassett was born on August 16, 1958 in New York City, to Betty Jane (Gilbert), a social worker, and Daniel Benjamin Bassett, a preacher's son. Bassett and her sister D'nette grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida with their mother. As a single mother, Betty stressed the importance of education for her children. With the assistance of an academic scholarship, Bassett matriculated into Yale University. In 1980, she received her B.A. in African-American studies from Yale University. In 1983, she earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Yale School of Drama. It was at Yale that Bassett met her husband, Courtney B. Vance, a 1986 graduate of the Drama School.
Bassett first appeared in small roles on The Cosby Show (1984) and Spenser: For Hire (1985), but it was not until 1990 that a spate of television roles brought her notice. Her breakthrough role, though, was playing Tina Turner, whom she had never seen perform before taking the role, in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993). Bassett's performance earned her an Academy Award nomination and a Golded Globe Award for Best Actress.