Pam Grier Shares Stories From Her Most Memorable Roles

COFFY, Pam Grier, 1973
Everett Collection

Pam Grier knows that she has paved the way for many Black women in Hollywood and she’s proud! Grier is most known for her role in Quentin Tarantino‘s Jackie Brown as the “first female action hero.” She’s now opening up about her incredible career in the recent season of TCM’s The Plot Thickens podcast. The 73-year-old took a deep dive into some of her most famous roles and her rise to fame in 1970s Blaxploitation films.

FOXY BROWN, from left: Bob Minor, Pam Grier, 1974.

Everett Collection

One of her first roles was in 1971’s The Big Doll House. She was a college student with no acting experience when she was hired to play an inmate in a female prison. She was working multiple jobs to try to save up to attend UCLA but Roger Corman convinced her to take the part. He also gave her the advice of reading “The Actor Prepares” by Konstantin Stanislavski and she said she still uses the methods she learned in the book in her acting today.

Coffy Pam Grier, 1973

Everett Collection

Grier got some attention for he role in The Big Doll House but she received international fame when she got the main role in 1973’s Coffy. She played a similar role in 1974’s Foxy Brown and said that she used her aunt for inspiration. Grier said, “Foxy was strategically more radical and aggressive. I wanted to show that side of womanhood. My aunt basically was a Foxy Brown — she rode a Harley, she wanted to be an architect, and she was beautiful. She was way ahead of her time.”

Foxy Brown Pam Grier, 1974

Everett Collection

In 1975, Grier got to work with the iconic Eartha Kitt in Friday Foster and said that she was starstruck. She admitted, “I just wanted to sit at her feet and listen to hear narratives. People who have that knowledge and wisdom, you want to learn from them. I wanted her to have my dressing room. I wanted her to have anything she wanted. She opened doors for me, and I knew I could learn from her. And I did. It was wondrous.”

Jackie Brown Pam Grier, 1997

Everett Collection

The ’80s brought new opportunities for Grier to appear on television. She got the role of Valerie Gordon, an NYPD officer, on Miami Vice. Several years later, Grier got the role that she is most known for, Jackie Brown. The 1997 film followed a flight attendant caught smuggling money. She revealed that the role was terrifying but “I was ready to work with Quentin and give him what he needed. He only uses one or two takes. When he works you and you feel it, and you’re in the groove, man, it just flies.” In the 2000s, she returned to TV as Kit Porter in The L Word.


Philippe Bosse/Paramount+/Everett Collection

Grier doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. She recently appeared in the TV series Bless This Mess along with films As We Know It, Cinnamon, and Pet Sematary: Bloodlines. What is your favorite role of hers?

1974 (50 Years Ago)
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1974 (50 Years Ago)

January 2024

In this time capsule issue of ReMIND Magazine we look back 50 years ago to 1974!

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