There’s something to be said about Tika Sumpter. With six years on the soap opera ‘One Life to Life’, the Queens native shot to Hollywood ‘it’ girl status with her recent role on BET’s ‘The Game’ and as the only African American with a leading role on CW’s coveted series, ‘Gossip Girl’. Arguably the darkest Black girl we’ve seen in recent memory welcomed behind the exclusive velvet ropes of Tinseltown’s inner circle–perhaps since Naomi Campbell, the former Miss America Kenya Moore, and dare I say, Usher’s ex-wife Tameka Raymond–Tika manages to defy the industry’s clear hang ups with skin color. And what proceeds her gorgeous mocha skin is a woman with undeniable talent, and a career that has only just begun.

We’ve seen her slay the Upper Eastsiders in ‘Gossip Girl’ as a MBA power match to the series’ Chuck Bass, and bring the cocky Malik to his knees on ‘the Game.’ We’ve seen her steam up red carpets and New York Fashion Week front rows, and pose for a revealing–albeit airy–GQ spread. And through it all, Tika serves Black girl fierceness to little brown girls watching from afar and proving, umm yea, *insert sarcasm here,* she’s pretty damn hot for a dark girl.

We’re Team Tika all the way, and here’s 10 reasons why!

1. She’s so ambitious. This starlet did her time on the soap opera circuit and with dedication, she’s made it to the next level, starring on two of the small screen’s hottest series with enough momentum to fly even higher.

2. Serves inspiration. From Hazel Scott to ‘A Different World’s’ Kimberly Reese, the darker girl has long stood in the shadows of Black America’s lighter girls, Tika’s presence signals a change on the horizon, while exhibiting to young dark-skinned girls that beauty, hotness and talent truly comes in many shades.

3. She’s everywhere. Hats off to her manager and publicist, because there isn’t a fashion page or gossip blog that’s not buzzing about her.

4. Her fashion slays. From the red carpet, to her on-screen looks, Tika starts ¬†trends and we love nearly every look she dons. Tika’s hair and makeup is never a miss!

5. She’s got her own. Unlike some Hollywood women, Tika didn’t ride in on the shoulders of an insider boyfriend or hang with a trendy crew to earn her way into the spotlight. She’s a seemingly single lady that’s winning on her own merit.

6. The girl can sang too. Rumor has it the starlet has a set of pipes. On top of her booming acting career, we might see an album soon.

7. She takes risks. Whether it’s a dress or a racy role, Tika’s versatility and willingness to push herself is a testament to just how far she’ll go.

8. A weave to live for. She’s a walking PSA to Black women in America, this starlet’s weave is arguably one of the hottest in the game. Kudos to her hairstylist, Nadia Vessell, who Tika has partnered with on a line of hair extensions.

9. She lifts as she climbs. Whether it’s a green cause or a car race to raise money for a charity, it’s super dope that this busy bee finds time to give back.

10. She just makes us proud. It’s that something about Tika that gives us a sense of pride whenever we see her. We’re rooting for this fly girl all the way!

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