The start of a new decade feels like no better time to have the very first Black woman playing 007 in No Time To Die. Well, it’s a little bittersweet given that Lashana Lynch isn’t actually taking over the main role of Bond. Daniel Craig still holds that title. However, she’s still a 007 and a great addition to the storied history of Black women in the Bond franchise.
Black women have been everything from bodyguards, to government agents, to Moneypenny since the first one showed up in a Bond film—and not as an extra. No matter the role, they’ve all left their marks on the franchise in some way.
Trina Parks wasn’t the only Black woman in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. Before Parks makes her grand arrival as the first Black woman bodyguard, another Black woman appears briefly before she’s turned into a gorilla. That moment hasn’t aged well because trash never ages well. Parks plays the role of Thumper, a nimble karate expert who gives James a bit of a workout before he bests her and her partner, Bambi. While Parks’ part isn’t huge in any way, her role in Diamonds Are Forever was just the start for Black women who would follow in later Bond movies.
A couple of years later, Gloria Hendry joined the club of Black women appearing in the Bond franchise with a credited role. She portrayed a CIA agent named Rosie Carver. Live and Let Die released during the height of the blaxploitation era. That resulted in the casting of a large number of Black people in the film. Without a doubt, it boasts the highest number of Black actors that have ever been in a Bond movie.
It’s a shame that Rosie is killed about 30 minutes into the film after not doing much. That is, aside from a lot of screaming and little to no ass-kicking. Regardless of her amount of screen time, like Parks, Hendry helped pave the way for future Black women in the Bond franchise.
It wasn’t until 1985 that a Black woman appeared in the franchise in a significant role. If you’re going to have Grace Jones in your movie, then it’s wise to have her on-screen as much as possible. And while you’re at it, make sure she’s in as much promo as possible. In A View to Kill, Jones played the iconic May Day: bodyguard, lover, and enforcer for Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin. Thumper backflipped so that May Day could make a man tumble through the sky to his death from a blimp.
She ends up saving Silicon Valley from destruction and ultimately saves Bond in the process. May Day almost made it to the end of the movie—a far cry from the previous roles held by Black women in the Bond franchise. Jones is everything in the role and, quite honestly, the main reason to watch A View to Kill.
Fast-forward to 2002 when Halle Berry made her debut in the Bond franchise as Jinx, an NSA operative and a love interest to Bond himself in Die Another Day.
Like Jones before her, Berry featured in a good amount of promo for the movie. And she played an important role in the overall plot. In fact, she essentially starred opposite of Brosnan’s Bond. She got in on as much action as he did. Jinx did it all: she saved Bond, helped save the world, and managed to stay alive. She made it all the way to the closing credits in a cozy little hut with James and a slew of diamonds.
Throughout the last decade, Naomie Harris also joined the list of Black women in Bond movies. She was first introduced in 2012’s Skyfall as Moneypenny, a recurring character role previously only played by white women. Harris’ Moneypenny, however, wasn’t just a smitten secretary working at MI6. When she first appears on screen with Bond, she’s behind the wheel. Moneypenny drives as she and Bond pursue a mercenary in the streets of Istanbul.
Harris was also the first Black woman in a Bond film to reprise her role in subsequent movies. She appeared in 2015’s Spectre as well as the upcoming No Time to Die.
The upcoming Bond movie seems like it will be the first to have two Black women in meaningful speaking roles. We even get a taste of Lashana Lynch’s badassery in the first trailer released for the forthcoming movie. She gives Bond an equivalent of the “get down or lay down” speech. By doing so, she lets him know who the new 007 is with conviction.
Maybe the promise of a new decade will finally bring us a Bond movie starring a Black woman in the leading role. It makes sense, given the evolution of the roles Black women have played in the franchise. There is no inspiring reason for the fate of the world to continue to rest squarely on the shoulders of a white guy for another ten years.