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NEW YORK — Esther Scott, an actress who specialized in playing matriarchal roles in films and television shows — most notably in “Boyz N the Hood” and “Dreamgirls” — died Friday at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was 66.

Ms. Scott had a heart attack and was found unconscious in her Santa Monica, Calif., home Feb. 11, said her sister, Shaun Scott, who confirmed her death.

Ms. Scott made a career of being the familiar face of nurturing but sometimes strict characters in more than 70 movies and many TV shows.

In “Boyz N the Hood,” the 1991 movie about the challenges young black men faced growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Ms. Scott played the grandmother of the protagonist’s love interest. She chases the young man out of her granddaughter’s bedroom while wielding a meat cleaver.

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In 2006’s “Dreamgirls,” Ms. Scott portrayed Curtis Taylor Jr.’s aunt Ethel. Taylor is a record executive played by Jamie Foxx, and his aunt watches over his children.

Ms. Scott played an asylum nurse in “The Craft” (1996) and a judge in “Austin Powers: Goldmember” (2002). She also had roles in “Martin,” “Sister, Sister,” and “The Wayans Bros.,” among other TV shows.

Fans usually recognized her on the street but did not remember her name, her sister said.

Shaun Scott remembers seeing her sister most excited for her role as Bridget Turner in “The Birth of a Nation,” the 2016 movie about Nat Turner, a slave who led a rebellion in Virginia in 1831.

Ms. Scott played Turner’s paternal grandmother, who taught him how to read and write.

“She was really looking forward to that particular role,” Shaun Scott said. “I remember her being excited. She thought that the time was right to tell the story.”

Esther Scott was born April 13, 1953, in Flushing, Queens. Soon after, the family moved to Brooklyn. Ms. Scott attended the Bronx High School of Science, where, her sister said, she caught the acting bug.

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“She was just about in every play that they had, that I can recall,” Shaun Scott said. “She might have been bitten by the bug even earlier than that.”

Ms. Scott moved to California and graduated from San Francisco State University, where she received a degree in theater arts, her sister said.

After filming “Boyz N the Hood,” many other matronly roles followed for Ms. Scott — but there was one she simply could not fill.

“She tried to be motherly with me, but we bumped heads on that,” Shaun Scott said, laughing.

Overall, regardless of how small or large the role was, Ms. Scott was happy to do what she loved, her sister said.

“She enjoyed all of her roles,” Shaun Scott said. “She was excited about working.”