When I thought of important women in history, Pam Grier was the first person to come to mind. Pam Grier is an American actress that has been in films and television for over four decades. She is best known for her sex appeal and action movies, but there is much more to Pam Grier than the ground breaking roles she portrayed.
Pam got her start in the early 1970’s in Blaxploitation films like Coffy, where she played a nurse who sought revenge on drug dealers. Coffy was a big hit, and made Pam the first African-American female to star in an action film. She played similar roles in Foxy Brown (1974) and Sheba Baby (1975). She continued her film and television career throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. In 1997 Quentin Tarantino, who was a fan of Blaxploitation films, wrote the title role of Jackie Brown specifically for Pam Grier. She received a lot of accolades for Jackie Brown and was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Sag award for her stellar performance. She went on to star in many more films and television shows like The L Word, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Smallville which expanded her fan base to a younger generation.
Life wasn’t always glamour and movie sets for Pam. During her childhood, her family moved around a lot before settling in Denver, Colorado. Her mother was a nurse and her father was a mechanic and Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force. When she was only six, she was sexually assaulted by two boys which led to a lonely and traumatized childhood. Later in life, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and was given 18 months to live. I am happy to say that her cancer is in remission today. No matter how many times she was knocked down, she always got up and was stronger than she was before. She never let the pain from her past stand in the way of her dreams. She is the ultimate survivor.
In April 2010, Pam Grier published a memoir called Foxy: My Life In Three Acts. She discusses her career as well as her childhood, segregation, the importance of the women’s liberation movement, and her relationships with Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Freddie Prinze Sr. and Richard Pryor. In Foxy: My Life In Three Acts, Pam wanted to share her life lessons with the intention to touch the heart of everyone who read her story. Once again, she was successful.
In December 2010, I had the honor of working with Pam Grier at the Wizard World Comic-Con in Atlanta as her assistant for two days. I have to say she was one of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met. We talked candidly about life, television shows (like The L Word and Smallville), the importance of true friendship, her battle with cancer and her horses that she loves so much. I will never forget one piece of advice she gave me. She said “Never settle, always stay true to yourself, love yourself first and don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.” Coming from her, it meant the world to me.
Pam Grier can be described in many ways, Actor, Action Star, Singer, Author, Sex Symbol, Animal Lover, Survivor, and ICON. She has definitely been an influence in my life, and not only made her mark in Women’s history, but in American History.