Los Angeles native Juanita Moore began her career as a film extra, later honing her craft in local stage productions at the Ebony Showcase, Theater. In 1949, she made her feature film debut in "Pinky", playing a nurse. She spent the better part of the next decade trapped in mostly stereotypical roles as domestics until landing the breakthrough part of Annie Johnson, the hard-working housekeeper to actress Lora Meredith in the glossy Douglas Sirk-directed remake of "Imitation of Life" (1959). Moore excelled as Annie, whose light-skinned daughter attempted to deny her roots by passing for Caucasian, and the actress received a well-deserved Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
As with any so-called "minority" performer, though, Moore initially found finding suitable follow-up roles difficult. She landed supporting turns in "Tammy, Tell Me True" (1961) and "Papa's Delicate Condition" (1963). In 1966, she was one of the titular character's fellow religious in "The Singing Nun". With the advent of the black-themed films in the late 60s and early 70s, Moore saw some improvement in the types of parts in which she was cast. Mostly, she undertook matriarchal roles in movies like "Uptight" (1968), a loose remake of 1935's "The Informer", "The Mack" (1973) and "Abby" (1974). Her appearances tapered off in the 1980s as she cared for an ill spouse. At a time when many in her profession might consider retirement, Moore renewed her career returning to movies after a dozen years in the small role of a wise and warm, advice-dispensing grandmother in "Disney's The Kid" (2000). Moore went on to land guest parts on such high profile TV shows like "ER" and "Judging Amy".