Pam Grier's roles in many 1970s exploitation films made her one of the first black female movie stars. Her characters could generally be described as "survivors." She typically played a sexy, tough woman who fought back against injustice with any weapons available to her.
Grier was an army brat who wound up in Colorado, where a talent scout saw her and recommended that she go to Hollywood. She took a job as a switchboard operator at American International Pictures to gain a foothold in the industry and was thrown into Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. A more substantial role followed with The Big Doll House, a women-in-prison film shot in the Phillipines. After several similar movies, her greatest successes came as the heroine of such blaxploitation films as Coffy and its semi-sequel Foxy Brown.
Grier was one of the most popular movie stars of the 1970s, but her career slowed when the blaxploitation craze faded. Later filmmakers often cast her in homage to her earlier work. Her most outstanding lead role is in Jackie Brown, a part that was written for her by Quentin Tarantino. Modern audiences may know her best from television's The L Word.