The late Teresa Graves is, by most accounts, the first Black actress to star in her own drama, Get Christie Love1, on network television. Courtney Kemp, the creator of Starz’s hit crime drama Power, just landed a deal to bring the series back to the small screen.
Graves, born January 10, 1948 in Houston, Texas, began her career as a singer, then moved to acting in the late ’60’s. As a regular on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In in 1969, Graves became known for her head-turning looks and versatility as an actress. Her big break came in 1974 with Get Christie Love! which was a made-for-television movie. The film did surprisingly well, leading to the series launching that same year.
The casting of Graves was inspired by classic beauties of the time such as Pam Grier and Cleopatra Jones star Tamara Dobson. As the character Christie Love, the first Black woman officer hired by a big city police department, Graves brought class and grace to the role despite its roots in Blaxploitation films. The series ended in 1975, with Graves leaving acting altogether after becoming a Jehovah’s Witness.
According to historians, Graves was the only Black actress to lead a network drama series until Kerry Washington did so with ABC’s Scandal hit show. Kemp, who is co-producing the series with Vin Diesel, has rebooted the character by making Love a CIA agent who leads an elite group of special operatives in the agency. The series is in development and will air on ABC. No word yet on who will star in the lead role.
Graves died in a house fire in 2002. She was 54.
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